Wiscasset to start talks with Dresden to renew ambulance service

Thu, 03/19/2020 - 1:00pm

EMS Director Dennis Simmons got the go ahead from the Wiscasset selectboard March 17 to begin contract negotiations with Dresden for renewing ambulance services. The board met for the first time since COVID-19 precautionary measures were implemented at the town office. Social distancing was put into practice and attendance was limited to 15.

Due to health concerns, Chairman Judy Colby didn’t attend, turning the gavel over to Vice Chairman Ben Rines Jr. Earlier in the day, Colby told Wiscasset Newspaper, if possible, she’d prefer to finish her selectboard term by participating in meetings remotely from her home.

In keeping with its new policy, the board took up business by hearing from the town’s department heads first. Simmons said Wiscasset was in the final year of its three-year contract providing ambulance services to Dresden. The contract was based on a flat fee: $6,000 for the first year, $6,500 for the second and $7,000 for the final year.

“We anticipate a growth rate for the coming year of 5%,” stated Simmons in his proposal. “We estimate that Dresden’s total call volume will be 120 calls for service.”

Simmons recommended the town charge a flat fee of $25,053 for the first year of a new three-year contract, with the understanding Wiscasset wouldn’t be responsible for uncollected accounts. The contract would be adjusted annually to reflect increases in fuel and other costs. If Dresden accepts the new proposal, Wiscasset would write-off current outstanding fees owed for uncollected accounts. 

The selectboard accepted Simmons’ proposal, authorizing him to meet with Dresden officials.

Fire Chief Rob Bickford said the department has an opportunity to replace its troubled 1989 ladder truck with a 1993 ladder truck being sold by the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department, for $30,000. Over the last few years, Wiscasset’s has required extensive maintenance and frequently been out of service.

Bickford said the Cape Elizabeth fire truck was refurbished seven years ago, is fully certified, and could be put into service as soon as firefighters are trained to use it. He said he and Public Works Director Ted Snowdon looked over the truck and test-drove it. The selectboard agreed to put an article for the fire truck’s purchase on the June town meeting warrant. In the meantime, Bickford will contact Cape Elizabeth fire officials and relay the town’s interest in buying it upon approval of voters.

In response to a request from Sue Robson of the Waterfront Committee, selectmen granted permission for the Turner Creamery Railroad Car to return to the Creamery Pier.

Don Davis of Middle Street asked the selectboard to intervene in a citation he’d received for flying a flag on his property. Davis said he’d been told by Code Enforcement Officer Bruce Mullins the flag was in violation of town ordinances because it had writing on it (“Ride with TRUMP”) and he could be fined $100 a day if the flag were not taken down.

Davis said he counted at least nine other flags in town with writing on them, many of which were outside businesses. In response, Mullins said he had simply acted on a complaint he’d received from a resident. Rines said he sympathized with Davis but there was nothing the selectboard could do other than refer him to the Appeals Board. The board agreed the ordinance’s wording needed to be looked into and promised to refer the matter to the Ordinance Review Committee.

At Mullins’ request, the board agreed to place a June warrant article for consideration of adopting guidelines addressed within the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. This would apply to new home and commercial construction. Voters will also be asked to adopt a “certificate of occupancy for new residential construction.”

The selectboard cancelled a public hearing to consider the renewal of a license for the sale of consumer fireworks made by Allen Cohen, dba Big Al’s Fireworks Outlet, 300 Bath Road. A new hearing date wasn’t set. Colleen Gilliam was appointed to the Comprehensive Planning Committee. On the recommendation of the assessing agent Ellery G. Bane, the selectboard granted two tax abatements to Steele’s Landscaping, Inc., Gardiner Road, Wiscasset. One for the current year was for $85.57; the other from 2016 through 2018 totaled $245.19.

Town Manager John O’Connell said town personnel were coping as best they could with the new COVID-19 procedures. Lincoln County had been indicated as a “high risk” area due to its large elderly population. “It might be quite a while before we get back to business as usual,” he commented.

Rines noted for the time being the selectboard plans to continue meeting bi-weekly. All of their meetings are broadcast on You Tube.

A selectboard/budget committee workshop is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, March 19 in the hearing room.