HARTFORD — Selectmen and officials from Buckfield, Canton and Turner discussed a long-range solution to maintaining fire service in town at a special meeting preceding the regular selectmen's meeting.
At their 2012 town meeting, residents rejected the increased cost for fire protection from the three towns that serve Hartford. The town disbanded its fire department several years ago because of fines from the Maine Department of Labor.
The three towns have been providing protection at a per residence cost less than what their own residents paid. Their proposed increases were to equalize cost. When Hartford voters failed to come up with the requested funds, selectmen prevailed on the other towns to enter into a 3-month service agreement.
At Tuesday night's meeting, Hartford selectmen tried to negotiate a reduced rate, but the other towns insisted that they could not ask their residents to underwrite Hartford's fire protection.
There will be a public hearing and a special town meeting on Saturday, Sept. 8, to explain the consequences of not having fire protection and to consider taking the necessary funds from town reserves to pay for protection for the remainder of the year.
Selectman Jack Plumley said he checked with his insurance company. They said that if the town loses fire protection service, they would not drop him immediately. But they would refuse to renew his policy.
Selectman Lee Holman said that the town was required to provide fire protection service, but she did not know how they could do that if the voters did not supply the funds. She also questioned what would happen to mortgages that required homeowners to maintain fire insurance if the insurance companies refused coverage.
In other business, Holman read a letter from the Maine Department of Transportation stating that they will be spraying along state roads this summer. Residents who wish to manually keep their roadside clear can opt out by calling the Dixfield DOT office at 562-4228. Additional information is available on the DOT Web site.
The Maine Department of Environmental Protection inspected the town transfer station. They found some hazardous materials at the site which must be removed professionally. Selectmen approved funds for the cleanup.
It is likely that the state will demand the closure of the present transfer station. Volunteers are being sought to serve on a committee to study options for moving the station.
Hartford's RSU 10 Director Shawn White reported on activities of the school board. There is much interest in consolidating all of the middle schools and all of the high schools. He said that while there were benefits from consolidating, the best thing for students was smaller schools.
He also said that he was not opposed to the desire of representatives from Buckfield and Sumner to withdraw from RSU 10. Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner made up SAD 39 before they were forced into consolidation by the state.