PARIS — A one-year trial merger of the Norway and Paris was defeated on a 41-41 vote by voters Monday night.
“The vote failed in my opinion,” town moderator Vern Maxfield announced to voters, who gasped as they heard the results of the paper balloting.
The vote came after only 15 minutes of discussion from residents largely against the plan.
The five-page agreement for combined police services between the two towns was developed as a one-year pilot program. The plan had been supported by Norway voters in June. If Paris had agreed to implement it and both towns decided to continue after one year, a transition board would plan a more comprehensive merger of the departments.
“I guess we go back to nothing,” Paris police Lt. Michael Dailey said after the vote.
Norway police Chief Rob Federico said his department will simply move on.
When asked if they would try to resurrect another vote, both chiefs said no.
While the majority of speakers spoke against the plan, Budget Committee member Robert Jewell asked voters to give the one-year pilot program a chance.
“I say we go forward with this and see what happens,” Jewell said. “The worst we can do is say it won't work.”
Opponents such as Kathy Richardson said a merger might work, but she did not believe this particular plan was the right one.
“I'm not convinced that this merger is it,” Richardson said.
While Federico addressed a question about replacement of officers who leave shortly after being hired, neither department made a presentation to voters about the merger.
Officials said the merger was intended to provide a more efficient use of their police force staff and resources.
If the one-year agreement had passed, all patrol functions would have operated out of the Paris police station. All investigative operations would be headquarters at the Norway police station.
Each town would fund staff and equip its own department during the one year trial. Additionally, each town would have been responsible for the salary, benefits insurances and other financial issues, including maintaining adequate liability insurance naming the other town as an additional insured.