Government Fleet Top News

Proposal to Have Voters Decide on Fleet Purchase

October 29, 2008

WEST BROOKFIELD, MA – Auditor Thomas Scanlon Sr. believes voters should decide whether the town buys specific vehicles, according to www.telegram.com

The town now has nearly $500,000 in a fleet vehicle account, and the auditor’s draft audit report says the money should not be carried forward from one fiscal year to the next without being earmarked for specific purchases. The report also recommended that the town only encumber funds for known obligations based on department requests, purchase orders, or contracts.

Residents established the fleet capital account in 2005. It allows the Board of Selectmen and the Advisory Board, working in concert, to purchase vehicles without going back for voter approval of each vehicle. Money has been added to the account each year and vehicles are bought on a set schedule, based on a five-year capital expenditure plan. Most area towns seek voter approval for each vehicle purchase. Some residents of West Brookfield have insisted their town follow that procedure.

In particular, former Selectman Lindsey Smith has been vocal at more than one town meeting in opposing the fleet account because it takes the voters out of the mix. The audit report also recommended the establishment of a vehicle stabilization fund. Town meeting voters would then approve the purchase of specific vehicles with money to be drawn from that fund. Selectman Barry Nadon Jr. said the auditor thought the $487,641 in the fleet account was too much to stash way without a designated use.

The fleet account was created to avoid a delay in obtaining a vehicle in an emergency situation, such as losing services of a police cruiser in an accident. Setting up a town meeting to vote on such a purchase was too time-consuming. At a special town meeting Tuesday, selectmen will ask voters to create a firetruck stabilization account and then transfer $275,000 from the fleet capital account to the fire truck account to use toward the future purchase of a firetruck.

 

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