Deerfield Select Board Approves New EMS Deputy Chief Position

The Deerfield Select Board meeting was marked by discussions on the town’s emergency services and education budgets. Among the decisions, the board approved the addition of a deputy chief position to the Community EMS, a move intended to ensure adequate supervisory coverage and potentially increase revenue through day-to-day operational oversight and participation in intercept calls.

The introduction of Joshua Sparks as the new Chief of South County EMS set the stage for extensive budget deliberations. Chief Sparks presented the budget changes, which included an increase in payroll due to the provision for overtime training, adjustments in retained earnings, and the impact of the Community Paramedicine Expansion Program on revenue. The board also discussed the funding and ordering of a new ambulance, the seasonality of EMS calls, and the increase in medical service fees with the objective of capturing additional revenue to offset assessments. The availability of intercepts and the challenges of billing for such services were also addressed.

The need for a deputy chief position emerged as a critical point of discussion. The board debated the necessity of this role, particularly against budget constraints and the potential impact on the service if the position could not be funded in the current fiscal year. The discussion covered the potential for the deputy to handle operational oversight and contribute to increased revenue through intercept calls. The board reviewed capital requests for the EMS, including an exhaust system, cardiac monitor replacement, intercept vehicle, and a station alerting system. Additionally, the discussion moved towards the feasibility of adding electric vehicles to the emergency fleet, the associated costs, federal tax incentives, and the installation of necessary charging infrastructure.

In the realm of education, the board grappled with budgetary concerns for local schools. The meeting revealed a tentative completion date of May or June 2025 for the new Tilton library, with a budget of $215,300 approved for the library. Franklin County Technical School representatives presented a recommendation for a $660,000 assessment to the Franklin Tech assessment account. The school’s business manager discussed the school’s budget, funding sources, and the impact of a 40% increase in Deerfield’s assessment, attributed to a rise in student enrollment. Concerns about the lack of additional state aid despite the increased student population were also raised.

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The board addressed the implications of Monty Tech, a nearby school, opting to become a school choice institution, which could affect funding for local schools. The financial impact on the local school and the town of Orange was highlighted, leading to a debate on the Chapter 78 formula and future plans for the school.

The budget summary brought to light the zeroing out of the line for rental lease of equipment, with funds being transferred to the Capital Stabilization Fund for upcoming projects, such as renovations and system upgrades. The school’s need for a feasibility study to qualify for the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s support was emphasized, with an estimated cost of $1.5 million. The challenges of maintaining an older building and the financial impact of the town’s per pupil cost and state aid calculations based on town wealth were discussed.

Additionally, the Franklin Tech assessment’s calculation method was scrutinized, but a motion to approve the assessment at $660,000 was passed unanimously. The Select Board also approved the animal control budget at $22,266 for FY25, despite concerns about the salary increase.

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The discussion on the Deerfield Elementary School budget was tabled until the school committee had voted on the proposed budget, which saw a decrease due to reallocating funds for transportation costs. The board expressed the need for more transparency regarding the use of school choice funds.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Town Administrator:
Kayce Warren
City Council Officials:
Carolyn Shores Ness, Trevor D. McDaniel, Tim Hilchey, Christopher Nolan (Assistant Town Administrator), Patricia Kroll (Administrative Assistant), Christopher Dunne (Planning & Economic Development Coordinator)

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