CANTON — Four of seven articles on Thursday night’s special town meeting warrant concern the fire department, including ordinances and the chief’s position.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 in the fire station.

Article 2 asks if the town will vote to repeal the Ordinance for the Organization of the Canton Fire Department.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Donny Hutchins said Tuesday that the 1960 law contains many inaccuracies, such as calling the department “volunteer” when it’s a municipal department.

Administrator Scotty Kilbreth said recently that because department members are paid a wage at the end of the year for training and response to calls, they can’t be called a “volunteer” fire department. Instead, he said, they are considered town employees.

“The selectmen rewrote the ordinance because it was such a bad ordinance,” Kilbreth said. “Our attorney said under our current ordinance, we have a municipal department that is acting like a volunteer department. You can call yourself whatever you want, but what you call yourself is what you are.”


“Officially, they are not a volunteer fire department,” Hutchins said. “They are a (municipal) fire department that is covered under town and torte claims law.”

The ordinance also requires discharged or suspended firefighters to go before selectmen for a hearing on charges for dismissal or suspension brought by the fire chief. The attorney, however, said that on termination disputes, the matter needs to go before an appeals board.

Kilbreth said the 1960 ordinance also refers to titles that no longer exist and cannot be enforced as written.

“Some things are also just too vague,” he said. “Even if this ordinance was presented at town meeting and had passed, it would still be a bogus ordinance, because it has all these errors.”

Because resident Chris Dailey presented a petition to change the fire chief position from appointed by selectmen to elected by residents, Kilbreth and Hutchins said selectmen had to present voters with a choice. Even though the matter was decided at the last referendum on Nov. 4, 2014, to elect a fire chief. Voters approved it 269-171.

However, Kilbreth and Hutchins said that based on questions that many voters asked of ballot clerks and Kilbreth, they didn’t understand the matter. When they asked, Kilbreth and the clerks said they couldn’t legally tell them on voting day.


“There were more than 200 votes to elect a fire chief, but more than half of them didn’t know what they were voting on,” Kilbreth said.

The petition was first defeated at town meeting last year.

Article 3 asks if voters want to approve the rewritten Fire Department Ordinance of Canton that makes the fire chief’s position elected.

Article 4 asks whether to have the chief appointed.

Article 5 asks if the town will vote to repeal the Nov. 4, 2014, vote to “Elect the Fire Chief for a 3-Year Term.”

Hutchins said selectmen believed that it was their duty to rewrite the fire department ordinance with help from the Maine Municipal Association because Dailey’s petition didn’t include an ordinance.


“Anybody can put in a petition, and they are to be respected, but to put in a petition and not include an ordinance to do it, that’s why we’re in this predicament,” Hutchins said. “We’re at an impasse and looking for direction.”

Article 6 asks if the town will vote to give the treasurer the authority to record a waiver of foreclosure of a tax lien mortgage in the Oxford County Registry of Deeds. The waiver is needed when it isn’t in the town’s best interest to own a particular parcel of property. The foreclosure can be enforced at a later date by court action.

“We’re trying to stop spending money that doesn’t need to be spent,” Hutchins said.

Article 7 asks if an ordinance entitled “Amendments to Housing and Minimum Lot Size Ordinance” be enacted. Hutchins said it would give the Code Enforcement Officer Scotty Kilbreth the ability to sign “run-of-the-mill” permits, such as for a shed at a house.

“The property owner would get it quicker and it makes the town more inviting,” Hutchins said. “We want to process these permits as quickly and accurately as we can, and this would free up the Planning Board for planning. We need long-range plans.”

Hutchins said he hopes to have a good turnout at the meeting.

“I would like to see a ton of people come out, especially for the pros and cons of the fire chief thing,” he said.

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