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The Yankee Express

Auburn Looks to New Fire Station

By Janet Stoica

The police station has outgrown its current facility and the town looked at the feasibility of a joint public safety complex to include both the police and fire departments with a price tag of $46 million, but that was a few years ago. At today’s prices the cost was $78 million so the Board of Selectmen decided to focus on a new fire station facility only. They are looking at one or two sites on the west side of town and the pricing is a more acceptable amount of $35 million. According to Town Manager, Ed Kazanovicz, the process has now begun to examine a new building site that, hopefully, leads to a debt exclusion vote for the fire headquarters only. The fire dispatch department is currently housed in the police department and with the second fire station, the department will move there freeing up more space for the police.
“Tax classifications for the town have been migrating to one single tax rate for business and residences for the past 12 years,” said Kazanovicz, “As of June 30, the end of the last fiscal year, the rate is down to 1.12 and we hope to get to that single tax rate in the next three to five years.” Currently the residential tax rate is $15.88 per thousand and the commercial/industrial tax rate is $18.58 per thousand. 
The 40B housing in the Tinker Hill area on the Auburn/Oxford line is on a two-and-a-half year build out. There will be 325 rental units on the west side of town that will bring in $500,000/annually to Auburn. 
It is hoped that body cameras for the Auburn Police obtained with a $93,000 will be put into use by January 1, 2024 and negotiations are currently in process with the police union.
Auburn’s Housing Protection Plan expires this fiscal year and they are currently putting together a plan that allows for more affordable housing while also keeping people in their own homes. Another program is the town’s Housing Mitigation Plan which must be approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This plan will identify hazardous areas related to snow, flooding, and other possible dangerous sites. Town and city governments must develop and adopt hazard mitigation plans to receive funding for hazard mitigation projects so the community can rebuild in a way that reduces future disaster losses in their area. 
“It provides a local action plan for opening emergency operation centers for emergency shelters and similar facilities in disastrous events,” stated Kazanovicz.
Additionally, the town has used the Central Mass. Regional Planning Commission to assist in promoting safer neighborhoods by creating new sidewalks, repaving existing walkways, and identifying traffic/pedestrian signal needs.
Contact Janet:  [email protected]