RUMFORD – Voters will decide whether to approve a 10-year interlocal agreement with Med-Care Ambulance Service in June.

But whether they decide to approve it, or go on a search for another ambulance provider, the town will be responsible for paying for a new $2 million building that will house the service.

Selectmen have gone on record opposing a new ambulance service facility. But because each of the 11 towns that participate in the service are part owners, they would be responsible to pay for the new building.

“If people don’t vote for the agreement, we’d have to search for an ambulance service. Some of their (Med-Care) assets would be ours, but we’d be accountable for the debt we’ve entered into, but not for operating costs,” Town Manager Jim Doar said.

Dean Milligan, director of operations for the ambulance service, said the Med-Care board will secure a 30-year, low interest loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the project. He said groundbreaking on the building will likely take place after all 11 member towns vote on the interlocal agreement in June.

He said a majority of the member towns have submitted letters of support for the project to the USDA.

Selectmen learned that the town’s assessment for the service has risen to more than $8,000 a month for the first six months of 2008, up from about $6,500. During the second half of 2008, that figure will rise again, to $10,200 because of the costs associated with the new facility.

Using population figures he took from the State Planning Office, Selectman Mark Belanger questioned how the town could continue to meet tax increases when the population was declining.

According to the State Planning Office, Rumford is projected to have a population of about 5,700, down from 6,400 counted during the 2000 census. The state office’s projections call for a further decline to just under 4,000 people within 10 years.

Milligan said as populations fluctuate, assessments change, as well. Right now, the per person assessment is $15 for Rumford. That will change to $19 during the second half of 2008.

Milligan also said that population estimates vary according to agency reports.

The new building is slated for construction on a parcel next to the Region 9 School of Applied Technology on River Road in Mexico.

The ambulance service was formed in 1988, and is now housed on Main Street in Mexico.

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