Fire District Politics?
I call everyone's attention to a recent legal notice concerning a special public meeting of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District to be held at Fitch Middle School on Tuesday evening June 26th, 2012 at 7:00 PM. I suspect that many people may not have seen this ad. Additionally, there may have been no mention of the subject itself at the May 9th PB Fire District meeting.
The primary basic stated purpose of that meeting is to revise the 1 - year annual terms of some of the "new" directors to 3 - year terms and to actually increase the number of directors. No mention is made of term limits, although some of the directors, including Mr. Alan Ackley, have been involved for an extended period. My notes also indicate that both Mr. Ackley and Mr. Peter Legnos were not voted on May 9th to have their terms renewed and that both terms end July 1st.
The present system of annual voting for directors seems to have worked well ever since 2003 when the District reorganized to be governed by Ct State statutes section 7-324 to 329. The numerical increase in directors also seems unnecessary. In short, if the present system works, why suddenly try to "fix" it?
I therefore reviewed the written minutes from the June 5, 2012 Groton Town Council meeting. Under Citizen's Petitions, Mr. Alan Ackley, of 99 North Road, Groton, representing himself as a director of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District Committee, indicated that the district committee is interested in consolidating with the Town of Groton. He requested a referral to the Town Council Public Safety Committee. (There is no mention of his active term as a director expiring July 1st, so perhaps he expected to be voted back in on June 26th)
Later, in responses to Citizen's Petitions, Counselor Frank O'Beirne stated that fire district consolidation was discussed in 2003 and that it would be better to get more fire districts interested. And under the article #2012-0177 for Consolidation, Counselor James Streeter noted the process would entail a petition, plus a vote by the fire districts to consolidate, plus a town wide referendum as well. This process could take 3 to 4 years for completion.
In summary, it would appear that the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District per se would possibly cease to exist, the local residents would therefore lose any direct control of their local fire department operation or budget, and most likely taxes could increase through the town as a result of absorbing operation of a fire department. Yet Mr. Ackley and others apparently want to try and increase Director's term limits and the number of directors. Does this make sense?
Perhaps the residents of the Poquonnock Bridge Fire District should be sure to attend and vote NO on Tuesday. The present system works and the Fire Department itself has a good reputation. Again, why "fix" something that already works?