By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(Aug. 23, 2018) Berlin Fire Company President David Fitzgerald on Tuesday evening emailed a statement to the press on behalf of the organization.
Fitzgerald was responding to an earlier statement from Mayor Gee Williams, which said talks on a new contract had stalled because the town was waiting for specific financial information involving the new Station 3 on U.S. Route 50.
“On Monday, August 13, Berlin Fire Company officers met with the Mayor and Council in executive session to continue contract development with the Mayor and Council,” Fitzgerald said. “At that time a draft contract was reviewed and edits suggested by both parties. These were to be finalized in legal form by Mr. [Joe] Moore, BFC attorney, and Mr. [David] Gaskill, Town Attorney for approval at the Mayor and Council meeting for Monday, August 27. Mr. Moore has been completing these documents edits. Many topics were discussed during this meeting.
“The Mayor and Council requested information regarding the Berlin Fire Company Station 3 project and most importantly assurances that no town funds were being used for the Berlin Fire Company Station 3 capital building project. The fire company has a specific banking account for Station 3 capital building funds in which donations, pledges, grants, and memorials received for this project are deposited.
“This account has been a part of the annual audit completed by the town’s accountants PKS. BFC is also utilizing the out of town fire call grant funds provided by Worcester County Commissioners for this project. We continue to solicit donations to the Station 3 building fund.
“The fire company has approved the stipulation that no town funds to be used for the Station 3 capital building project and [this] is included in the proposed fire/rescue services contract with the Mayor and Council. Our BFC accountant and attorney have been working on a summary regarding the BFC Station 3 project.
“We were not aware of a meeting scheduled for August 20 and a deadline to have these documents to the Mayor and Council by this date. We are continuing to work with the Mayor and Council to develop fire/rescue and EMS funding formulas for this year and their approval of the FY18-19 agreements for fire/rescue and EMS services to continue to provide the best fire/rescue and EMS services to its residents and visitors.”
Fitzgerald also responded to an inquiry from the Gazette on what information the town had requested, why they had not yet received it, and what the current status was of Station 3.
“The [mayor and council] wanted assurances to indicate that no town funds are in the Station 3 building fund,” Fitzgerald said. “None have been deposited into that account and our accountant is doing a complete review of this account to ensure that and provide a report to the town. The accountant needs to schedule this in his workload and ensure he has properly reviewed the account before presenting a report.
“The Station 3 project is moving forward and we expect to have a ground breaking ceremony in the near future. Willow Construction has been awarded the contract and materials have been ordered. Site work should begin soon.
“We continue to raise funds for this building project. Willow is also scheduled to complete a renovation of the headquarters foyer area to remove the original glass foyer area to make it more structurally sound as this is the original design from 1965.”