Fate of Tri-Town Ambulance Service in the hands of Greenwood voters Saturday
As it was two months ago in neighboring West Paris, a vote on who will be providing rescue service for the town is almost certain to be the top draw on the warrant for Greenwood's annual Town Meeting Saturday.
In West Paris the decision – whether the town should continue to contract for service from financially beleaguered Tri-Town, or switch to PACE Ambulance Service of Norway – nearly doubled the normal Town Meeting turnout there.
And most of those who showed up were there to back Tri-Town. They voted two-to-one to continue with coverage from the hometown-based responders.
But even with that vote, Tri-Town's continued existence was still “a work in progress,” Director Norm St. Pierre said following the meeting.
The next hurdle was the Greenwood vote, and then, if Tri-Town prevails, developing a “quasi-municipal” structure for the organization, one in which the two towns would assume a major role in its administration.
On Tuesday, the Greenwood selectmen briefly reviewed a preliminary draft contract for such a possible arrangement.
The contract would take effect only if town voters decide Saturday to stick with Tri-Town, rather than switch to PACE coverage.
If they did, they would still need to approve the contract itself, but at a later meeting.
The final details of such a contract would be worked out among Tri-Town and the two towns, but the draft in front of the selectmen Tuesday calls for the rescue service to become a department of the Town of West Paris, administered jointly by the town managers of Greenwood and West Paris.
All real and personal property of the service would be held jointly by the towns and if the agreement were terminated that property would be divided equally between them.
The two town managers would be responsible for acquiring and maintaining (with the assistance of insurance professionals) an insurance package that protects the towns from losses of liabilities related to the rescue department.
All Tri-Town personnel would by employees of West Paris and entitled to the same insurance and benefits as other town employees.
The costs and finances of the service would be paid by the two towns, but offset by the service's own “substantial revenue stream.”
The relative proportion of each town's financial responsibility for the service would be worked out in later negotiations.
Finally, the town managers would prepare the department's budgets, which would then go to town meetings for final approval.
Vote early on warrant
The vote on whether to stick with Tri-Town or switch to PACE is the sixth article on Greenwood's 34 article warrant.
It is followed immediately by the key financial vote of the day, in which voters are asked to approve in concept the town applying for a $500,000 bond for road improvements.
As is the case with the Tri-Town vote, if they agree, a second vote would follow at a later date, asking them to approve the details of such a bond.
The primary roads being eyed for improvements are the the Greenwood, Rowe Hill, Gore and Old Country roads, and Vernon Street.
(Further details on the road bond, and an overview of the town's proposed budget for the coming year can be found in an April 29 Bethel Citizen article republished below.)
Saturday's Town Meeting will be held at the Jackson Silver America Legion Post on the Gore Road, beginning at 10 a.m. It will break at noon, for lunch provided by the Ladies Auxillary of the Greenwood Fire Department.
From The Bethel Citizen, April 29, 2010:
Half-million-dollar bond issue proposed for Greenwood roads.
A proposed half-million dollar bond for road improvements is likely to be the key item of taxpayer interest in an otherwise unremarkable Greenwood budget proposal for the coming year.
At a public hearing Tuesday, residents will get their first formal look at the proposed budget, which calls for just over $2 million in town spending, and a mil rate of 10.95.
The rate compares to 10.4 mil for 2008, the most recent budget year spanning a comparable number of months. In its last budget cycle (2009/2010) the town budgeted for 18 months, in order to make the transition from a calendar-year budget to a fiscal (July 1 to June 30) year.
The largest components of the 2008 mil rate were 5.40 mil for town spending and 4.45 mil for the SAD44 assessment.
In the latest budget the relative positions of those two components has flipped, with 5.6 mil going to SAD44, and 4.7 toward town expenses.
Greenwood's annual Town Meeting this year will be held on Saturday, May 22. At that point voters would make their first decision on the bond proposal – whether or not to support it in concept.
If they agree, a subsequent meeting would be held at which they would vote on the terms of an actual commitment.
The proposal has the support of both the Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee, according to Town Manager (and Road Commissioner) Kim Sparks.
“They know there's probably no other way to fix the roads,” Sparks said.
Financing the bond, she said, would not involve the town spending a great deal more per year on road improvements than it already does – roughly $100,000.
The bond proposal calls for a five-year term, and at an anticipated rate of approximately 4 percent a year, that would add up to an annual payment somewhere in the range of $110,000.
If voters approve the bond, and other elements of the timing fall into place, Sparks said, the work could be completed this summer.
And that would result in some savings for the town, “because the rates for asphalt are really good right now.”