Short Takes: Selectmen Approve Increase for Ambulance Rates, Grant Alcohol License for New Minuteman Diner

By Ben Oleksinski

At their July 1 meeting, the Selectmen approved an increase for ambulance rates, a small uptick for water and sewer rates, and granted license applications for the new Minuteman Diner, among other business.

FY20 Water and Sewer Rate Approval
The Selectmen approved new water/sewer rates for FY2020. The result will be no increase to users who have less than 2,000 cubic feet of water/sewer usage per billing cycle, and only a 1.1% increase on the average water/sewer bill of 6,000 cubic feet per year. The rate increase can be attributed to rising fixed costs (debt, insurance/benefits, capital, and salaries). Consumption usage from homes and businesses is also going up, but it was noted that more people are opting for irrigation meters and more homes are being outfitted with energy-efficient toilets, sinks, and appliances.

The Selectmen viewed keeping the rates low as a good change, effectively a reminder for the community to be mindful of consumer usage and cost sensitivity.

FY20 Ambulance Rate Approval
The Selectmen approved new ambulance service rates for FY2020. The result will be an increase of 5% to the base rates. This will address high deductibles from private insurance companies. People using ambulance services are not meeting deductibles, so the increased rates mean more write-offs. The ultimate goal is for the Town to have a self-sufficient ambulance/paramedic service for both direct and indirect costs.

The Selectmen also noted current Massachusetts legislation under consideration that would put a cap on ambulance rates everywhere. If passed, it would go in effect several years from now and bring the numbers back down.

Town Counsel Interview
Municipal attorneys George A. Hall, Jr. and partner Nina Pickering Cook of Anderson& Krieger were interviewed for appointment as Bedford Town Counsel. Hall advises towns in all areas of municipal law, including zoning, open space planning and conservation restrictions, comprehensive permits, licensing, procurement, property issues, and general bylaws as well as many other areas. Cook focuses her practice on issues related to construction, land use, and real estate.

Questions arose mainly about conflicts of interest and ethics as both Hall and Cook serve as counsel for other communities as well. Following the interview, the members decided to table the appointment for further consideration.

If appointed, Hall would serve as lead counsel and main point of contact for Bedford, supported by Cook and other attorneys.

Class II Motor Vehicle Dealers License Application
Selectmen approved the requested application for a Class II Motor Vehicle Dealers License for B&R LLC at 50 Concord Road, with the sale of up to three vehicles. The license was previously granted to the holder, effectively making the decision a renewal to get B&R up to speed and code.

Abutters had concerns about ensuring the required privacy fence being built, enforcement of administrative towing hours, and aesthetic concerns.

A Class II License pertains to selling of vehicles, however, not the building itself. Approval was not contingent on that site’s use (that operation is governed by bylaws).

Minuteman Diner All-Alcohol Liquor License Application
The Selectmen approved the application from the new Minuteman Diner on Great Road for an all-alcohol license and common victualler license. Per the application, liquor will be served from 11 am to 11 pm.

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