NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen voted 4-0 Monday night not to appoint Animal Control Officer Richard Burton of Lewiston as a constable, because they want to research state law.
The document to authorize the constable appointment stated he would not carry a weapon, concealed or unconcealed, in the performance of his duties.
Burton said his request to be a constable was based on the need for expedited response times to animal calls, allowing him to have flashing blue lights on his vehicle and exceed the speed limit. He said he would not have law enforcement duties.
Selectman Steve Libby, referred to state law on constable duties, saying, “The perception for the town of New Gloucester is that we are establishing a police department.”
The town relies on the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police for law enforcement. Voters twice have turned down establishing a dedicated police officer or department for the town of 5,500.
“This is New Gloucester and we know how things work around here. I’m not going to constablize an animal control officer,” Selectman Steve Hathorne said.
“I’m not comfortable not knowing what (Maine law) says,” Selectman Lenora Conger added. “Table it and bring it back with information so we’re informed.”
In recent years, the town has had difficulty retaining animal control officers.
Burton said the job is harder and threatening. A taser has been added as a tool to take a dog in custody.
In other business, Michael O’Donnell of John E. O’Donnell & Associates of New Gloucester presented a proposal for a townwide property revaluation. The two-year project is estimated to cost $200,000 and begin in July 2019.
O’Donnell is the town’s part-time tax assessor.
In another matter, Joanne Cole of the New Gloucester Candidates Forum Committee said the panel hosted a forum for those running for selectman but Hathorne was the only one who attended. Karen Gilles cited illness and board Chairman Linda Chase said late in the day that she had a conflict and was unable to attend.
Efforts were made to reschedule the forum but no response was received from the candidates until it was too late, Cole said.
“We tried every way we could to think of ways to have this open to the community,” Cole said. She learned at Monday night’s meeting that Selectman Steve Libby was the group’s liaison.
The committee was established by selectmen.
“We did this on our own nickel,” Cole said. “We need money to cover printing costs and would appreciate financial support.”
Voters will go to the polls June 12 to choose two of the three candidates.