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Selectmen: Interest Rates Fall, Belmont's Gain

Fire Department will need to wait for a new ambulance.

Homeowners refinance their mortgages to save themselves a few bucks each month. 

And just like those homeowners, Belmont will be saving a bit more than a million dollars refinancing its debt. 

The Belmont Board of Selectmen unanimously approved Monday night, March 5, a request from Town Treasurer Floyd Carman to refinance the General Obligation Bonds for the Town Hall Complex from 2002 and the Fire Station Project from 2004.

Interest rates on all financial instruments at historic lows, Carman explained, currently near three percent which is down from the four-to-five percent range of a few years ago.

Based on his analysis, the bottom line for Belmont is a savings in interest costs of $1.4 million over the remaining life of these 20-year bonds.

"That money," Carman said, "will go right back to the taxpayers."

The selectmen were delighted with the savings and expressed their appreciation to Carman.

Waiting for the ambulance 

The Belmont Fire Department will have to wait a bit longer to purchase a new ambulance.

On Monday, Belmont Fire Chief David L. Frizzell came before the Board of Selectmen at the Chenery School to seek permission for awarding a contract to Greenwood Emergency Vehicles of North Attleboro.

The price is $216,000 and, according to Chapter 30B of Massachusetts General Laws, can be accepted or rejected but not negotiated.

Upon learning that Greenwood was the only bidder among six potential entities, the selectmen expressed reluctance to awarding the contract right away.

“I’m looking at a number but am a little uncomfortable that there was only one bidder and (I am being asked) to vote on something that might not be competitive,” said Selectmen Vice Chairman Mark Paolillo.

“How do you know this is a good bid without another one sitting next to it?” he asked

Frizzell said he couldn’t say exactly why the other companies did not propose a bid but imagines that distance – with one situated in Connecticut – may have been an issue.

Selectman Angelo Firenze also said he was resistant to awarding the contract to the only company that bid.

“Can we check value against what other communities have?” he asked.

Frizzell said it’s difficult to find out what’s a fair comparison.

“There aren’t a lot of ambulances being delivered to compare information,” he said, adding that the ones area communities use are older.

The selectmen, however, did not feel ready to vote without additional information and decided to delay their decision for two weeks.

Until then, they asked Frizzell to get any comparable data possible. Frizzell will look at comparable communities that have purchased ambulances in the past few years.

Caoi, Angelo

Firenze also held Selectmen Office Hours for the final time. After eight years of service, he will be resigning from the board in April.

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