Each time we get heavy rain, the fire department sends out crews and equipment to help residents pump out flooded basements. A new bylaw proposed by Fire Chief Joseph Mauro would charge residents who should be relying on a sump pump instead of the fire department to get out the water.
Mauro told selectmen and Advisory Committee members at a meeting last month that the bylaw, which will be voted on at Town Meeting next week, is not aimed at residents who have occasional water issues, but at those who are repeat offenders.
“It will be used for people who had a sump pump but didn’t maintain it, or people who knew they had a problem but didn’t take any steps to deal with it,” Mauro said. “There are a few people we go to continually.”
They bylaw would allow the chief to issue a warning for the first offense, and then charge $50 for the second offense and $100 for each subsequent offense.
The bylaw is modeled after one in Sudbury implement by then-Fire Chief Michael Dunne. Dunne served as Southborough’s interim fire chief before Mauro was appointed earlier this year.
The intent of the bylaw is not to generate revenue but to encourage residents to maintain their private pumping equipment instead of relying on the fire department, Mauro said. “It will ease the burden of tying up men and equipment for people who could have pumped on their own.”
Whether to assess the fine is up to the discretion of the fire chief, and Mauro said he would not apply it when there are extenuating circumstances like a power outage or in the flash flooding the town saw in July 2009. He also said it would not apply to areas where there are known problems like on Wood Street which backs up to the Sudbury River.
Several Advisory Committee members suggested making the criteria for assessing the fine more explicit instead of leaving it up to the discretion of the fire chief.
Selectmen seemed to generally favor the bylaw, but did not vote on whether to formally support it. They will render a decision at Town Meeting on Monday.
What do you think? Is the bylaw a good idea? Will you support it at Town Meeting? Share your thoughts in the comments.