MEXICO – In addition to dousing fires and handling accidents, Fire Chief Gary Wentzell now has the power to recover service costs.

At Wednesday night’s joint Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee meeting, Wentzell sought the ability to bill people and agencies for services rendered by the Fire Department.

By a 4-0 vote, selectmen gave him the power to:

• Look into billing the department’s coverage of accidents to insurance companies.

• Bill people for inspections done on tax-exempt properties and buildings.

• Bill people who don’t obtain a burning permits for grass or brush fires to which the department must respond.

• Bill people for hazardous materials spills and disposal fees.

Wentzell also sought the ability to bill tax-exempt properties, like schools for bomb scares, and churches for services rendered. However, selectmen balked at including it until Town Manager Joe Derouche could obtain a legal ruling.

“We need to recoup money for frivolous calls,” Wentzell said.

The department, through investigative work done by Mexico police and Chief James Theriault, has recovered money from responding to bomb scares at SAD 43 schools in Mexico.

“Most of the time, when we catch the kids (making the bomb scares), their parents pay,” Theriault said, noting that parents have paid through their homeowner’s insurance.

Money recouped so far from response to previous bomb scares has gone back into a fund for paying the firefighters, Wentzell added. However, any money recovered now will be placed in the fire department’s budget.

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