Brookline votes down new vehicles

BROOKLINE – Voters made it clear they didn’t want a new fire truck or a new police cruiser at Wednesday night’s annual Town Meeting.

The meeting at Captain Douglass Academy took about four hours and several hundred attended.

By a secret ballot, voters defeated a proposal to purchase a new Ford Crown Victoria for $30,000 by a 151-100 margin. Police Chief Thomas Goulden said the car would have replaced a worn-out cruiser and would have enhanced officer safety.

Voters also defeated the proposed purchase of a new fire truck for $163,617. At the start of the meeting, the truck’s price was about $189,000, but Fire Chief Charles Corey said he got a better deal on financing prior to the meeting.

Corey said the old truck is 20 years old, and while it is in fairy good shape, trucks that old should be replaced.

Resident Ben Senter spoke out against buying a new truck because, he said, new diesel trucks built to new emission standards are “problematic” and “not any more dependable than the current truck.”

To which Corey replied, “If this truck breaks down and your house is on fire, that’s 20,000 gallons of water you don’t have.”

Senter won the argument because an overwhelming majority voted against the purchase by a show of voting cards.

The budget was OK’d by voters after selectmen cut a little more than $10,000, bringing the approved amount to $3,756,429 – a few thousand dollars less than the 2008 operating budget.

Voters also opposed purchasing $22,000 in surveillance equipment for the police department and Town Hall.

Officials said the Local Government Center, an organization that gives legal advice to towns and cities, told them it could protect the town from frivolous law suits, such as cases where prisoners claim police abuse.

However, Brookline Police Officer Michael Kurland said he opposed the system. “You’re only going to watch me get hurt,” said Kurland. “(It) won’t help me at all.”

Voters did support spending $142,000 for a replacement ambulance; $60,000 for road and bridge improvements, which came down to a count 137-109; using private donations to build a skating rink; tax exemptions for the disabled and elderly; and appropriating $104,533 for the Safe Routes program, which will be reimbursed by the federal government.

Voters tabled articles asking for tax incentives to make homes more environmentally friendly.