BUCKFIELD – Selectmen voted Tuesday night to give 50 hours per week paid coverage to Buckfield Rescue’s two full-time employees, Lisa Buck and Heather Richardson. Buck and Richardson are already working the 50 hours to cover the entire day, but are being paid for only 40 hours.
They work as a team and when one goes off duty the other monitors the calls at home. One person is needed for driving the ambulance while the other tends the patient. Volunteer Chief Tony Lord presented the proposed budget to the selectmen showing that increasing the hours would have mean an increase of $12,031.
Selectman Chairman Oscar Gammon said, “Twelve thousand dollars is not that much considering the coverage the town is getting. I wouldn’t sit home waiting for a call when I was off duty unless I was getting paid.”
Lord said the revenue received for transporting patients and the cost of the operation was more or less even on the books. They are in good shape and would like to start looking for a new ambulance. The current one is 10 years old.
Buck said if they had another one they could transport patients a longer distance and not leave townspeople unprotected. They would also consider renting the old one for limited handicap use.
Town Manager Glen Holmes gave the board an update on the school budget.
There will be a 6.8 percent increase in the SAD 39 budget. This increase reflects new programs of extended kindergarten, an education technician for grade four, a gifted and talented teacher, social studies and visual art supplies, an extended plan of literacy, teacher induction and an English teacher.
Buckfield’s portion of that will amount to $110,048 or 12.16 percent. This will translate to about $2 on the tax rate, according to Holmes.
Another issue that came before the board was a petition to change town meetings from the present open forum. Judy Berg was present to speak to her petition which would include a town meeting where the town would debate and amend the warrant but no open vote would be taken. This would be followed by a secret ballot vote two weeks later.
The board voted to add the petition to the warrant.
Holmes expressed his main concern which was how the town would address an issue when the town did not support a particular item on the budget which they were under obligation to pay.
Holmes presented three bids for the Recreation Department grounds upkeep, but he also informed the board that they were looking at adding a third person to work full time for the town. This employee would spend 182 hours working for the recreation department and the rest of the time doing town work.
The decision on the bids was tabled.
The board also voted to give Holmes permission to negotiate with the owner of a new subdivision located next to the recreation fields. The town is looking to increase the field size to accommodate Babe Ruth league games, and Holmes was authorized to speak to the owner about possibly exchanging a piece of town land for one that would allow expansion of the field.