LIVERMORE FALLS – The majority of voters stood for public safety at the annual town meeting Wednesday night, approving 24-hour local dispatch, and full police and ambulance coverage.

It wasn’t easy as residents asked many questions and made motions and amendments for 3 hours, causing moderator Darryl Brown to bang the gavel several times to restore order.

Articles 3 through 11 were routine housekeeping items and passed quickly, including Article 5, which re-established a 1 percent discount on taxes paid in full within 30 days of commitment.

Some objections

Although some objected to the increased ambulance subsidy, in addition to what an individual is billed, voters finally approved the contractual account. That included $34,710 for ambulance costs, an item with which area officials have been wrestling since Franklin Memorial Hospital announced a major increase in subsidy.

Kevin McGinnis, who heads the service at the hospital, said that Medicare shortfalls are responsible for much of the increase and explained that the subscription plan previously offered when Community Emergency Services was independent was deemed illegal by the state after the hospital took over.

Ambulance service

Fire Chief Ken Jones noted it may not have been wise to sell CES but it had been done. “I hate to give the money out, but I recommend we go with it,” Jones stated as others agreed they wanted a service which could respond in five minutes, not 20.

Residents viewed the potential savings of having the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department take over even one shift of local dispatching as a bad idea considering the minor amount of savings predicted – $15,867 – and approved the Budget Committee’s recommendation of $125,867.

Jones suggested a committee be named on this issue. “We won’t get the same expertise at ASO that we do here; they do a lot besides dispatch,” he said.

Voters also approved the Budget Committee’s recommendation for police, which was $297,558, mainly out of respect for Chief Ernest Steward Jr.’s efforts in reducing the budget about $24,000 from last year.

They also approved the highway budget at $264,910, transfer station at $172,754, fire department at $62,150, and buildings at $49,183, before a great deal of discussion on the assessors’ agent and the library.

Gove’s warning

Town Manager Alan Gove advised voters they would “shoot yourself in the foot to save $15,000 ” if they failed to support the selectmen’s position on the assessor’s agent.

“This assessing work is important. We can discuss all night the expenditure side, which department should get how much, but the equally important tax issue is the revenue side. Mess this up and you’ll have tax rate problems before you even get talking services and departments,” he warned.

The final vote for the overall account (elected officials) was for $66,525, which is $1 less than requested, to help Brown out of what he called a sticky situation involving many amendments and votes.

More rhetoric followed Chairman Bill Demaray’s attempt to have the library association spend some of its money for books, rather than call upon the town. Voters approved a total of $52,000 for the library.

Strong support was shown for the library, which many said was greatly used and an asset to everyone.

Voters also approved a controversial amendment, pertaining to a Village Area, to the Building Lots Standards as a step toward cleaning up the town, and gave rapid approval to road opening and wastewater ordinances.

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