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Supervisor, firefighters reach accord on contract plan

Boston volunteer firefighters and the town supervisor say they have reached an agreement on fire protection for next year.

Details of the agreement are not being released until attorneys for the town and fire companies go over the proposed contract.

The two sides met Monday evening, five days after a contentious Town Board hearing where firefighters protested the proposed contract.

"The [Monday] meeting went pretty well," said Richard Hawkins, president of Patchin Fire Company and a spokesman for the town's three fire companies. "There were some concessions made. Some major progress was made."

"It went real well," Supervisor Martin A. Ballowe said. "We came to terms on a contract."

Earlier this year, the town terminated the contracts as of Dec. 31 with the three fire companies, North Boston, Patchin and Boston. Town officials said it was necessary to terminate the contracts or they would automatically carry over into 2011.

Firefighters said if the town had not taken action in the summer, the contracts would have continued for up to two years with the same terms and fire protection would not be in question.

The fire companies maintained they would not have the authority to respond to fires or other emergencies if there is no contract Jan. 1.

The two sides differed on the size and length of the contracts.

The town wanted to give the fire companies different amounts, based on their need, but fire companies said they all wanted the same amount. Both sides eventually agreed the amount in 2011 would be the same as last year, $150,940.

But firefighters demanded a three-year contract as they had had in the past, with 3 percent raises in the second and third years.

The Town Board, with the exception of Councilman James E. Pluta, insisted on a one-year contract.

Pluta, a 25-year volunteer firefighter, resigned from the board in protest during last Wednesday's meeting.

The only stumbling block may be the requirement to advertise and hold a public hearing on the changes in the proposed contract.

The supervisor said the notice of the new hearing on the amended contract must be published, and the hearing must be conducted. Ballowe predicts it will go smoother than last week's, but he does not know when it can be scheduled.

"We're trying to figure that out," he said.

He said he is waiting to hear from the town attorney on when the hearing can be conducted.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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