FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners told Rangeley officials Tuesday that the commission budgeted $18,542 for that town’s Fire Department to cover structure fires in some unorganized territories but wouldn’t pay for equipment.

The county contracts with Rangeley for that service.

Rangeley Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, fire Chief Rudy Davis and Capt. Dennis Marquis met with commissioners after the town had not received a signed service contract for July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010. The contract was an oversight since commissioners had approved $18,542 in December 2008 in the unorganized territory budget. What was not approved was an additional $1,606 that the town requested.

Rangeley officials asked for $20,148, which included money toward a new pumper-tanker truck the town bought last year, Marquis said. He is a Rangeley selectman, he said, but was speaking as a member of the Fire Department.

Rangeley bought a $278,000 truck and used a formula to base cost-sharing for three plantations and some unorganized territories in Franklin and Oxford counties. Rangeley had initially asked Franklin County commissioners for $33,498 for the 2008-09 budget that included money for the truck. However, commissioners rejected the idea and only paid for normal fire protection services.

Ellsworth said the county’s portion of the cost of the truck for the unorganized territories is $14,966, used to protect $13.2 million worth of property. The plantations have agreed to pay, Ellsworth said, and they are working on Oxford and Franklin county commissioners to do the same.

“We believe that this is an important piece of business we do for the region,” Ellsworth said.

The town’s old truck was given to Salem Township volunteer fire company, which is funded through the county’s unorganized territory budget, he said.

Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay said the county contracts with Rangeley to provide only structure fire services and not services for rescues or snowmobile and vehicle accidents. The county is not authorized to pay for those, nor is it authorized to pay for equipment, he said.

“We bought the new truck solely out of town money,” Marquis said.

The department doesn’t see it as a capital expense, he said, but rather as part of its operating cost. They also respond to accidents and rescues.

McGrane said one way Rangeley could recoup some of its expenses would be to bill people for services.

Rangeley has a billing process but does not charge a person if they are a resident or taxpayer in areas the department serves, Marquis said.

“We are asking you to pay your fair share of the service,” he said. “It is the intention of the Fire Department to provide the services at a certain level and this is what it costs.”

Commissioners should have been approached prior to the town buying the truck, instead of afterward, Commission Chairman Fred Hardy of New Sharon said.

Marquis said it was not the department’s intent for commissioners to hear about it that way and there may have been some missteps on their part.

Ellsworth said they could adjust the contract this year and would try to adapt the next contract to their needs.

Marquis invited commissioners to take part in a summit in 2010 to review the formula for cost-sharing expenses.

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