SABATTUS — Emergency services and equipment were the most costly items at issue at town meeting Thursday night.

EMS program spending was approved at $14,500, which covers the cost of equipment and training. The Budget Committee figured this expense to be lower, $12,000, but the town thought otherwise. Some controversy arose surrounding why this budget had doubled in the past two years.

Town Manager Andrew Gilmore said the first year of this program was funded by a grant that wasn’t available the second year. Furthermore, during the third year of this program, the EMS providers went without pay. Fire Chief Marc Veilleux said the difference between waiting for the ambulance service out of Lewiston, which can average 9-10 minutes, and the response time of the EMS providers in Sabattus, usually about 6 minutes, is significant during a crisis.

Sabattus voters also agreed upon the purchase of a new pumper/tanker fire engine to replace Engine No. 4. This purchase will be carefully managed by a committee and only the most crucial, necessary aspects will be considered before this apparatus is bought.

The cost is not expected to exceed $300,000 and will not increase the town budget because this money has already been raised and sits in the town’s capital account. This capital account also boasts $35,000 to be used to purchase and retrofit a new police cruiser. Voters approved an additional $5,000 to be used toward this vehicle at a total cost of $40,000.

A new plow truck will be added to the Public Works fleet. The town voted to allow $35,000 to be used for finance costs and the first annual debt service payment for this vehicle.

Selectmen Jeff Baril pointed out that while taxes have been kept low in past years because the town has put off these big purchases, the maintenance equipment is getting older. Gilmore said the town has been “cannibalizing trucks” for quite some time and the cost for materials and labor to continue this is not justifiable.

The town did not approve the Board of Selectmen’s suggestion of raising an additional $2,000 to be put into the General Assistance fund and instead went with the recommendation of the Budget Committee to leave the fund as is with the $12,000 currently in it.

Voters rejected a request for $40,000 to replace the town’s fuel depot. Amedeo Lauria, serving his last term on the Budget Committee, thought the expenditure was too high for this tax year and instead believed in keeping the budget “in a fiscal boundary.”

The meeting opened with a tribute to Alcide Castonguay, a resident of Sabattus and Bowdoin, who recently passed away. Castonguay left an impact on this small town and the meeting was dedicated to him.

The tax impact of the budget, and the final amount of the spending plan for the next fiscal year, were not available late Thursday.

For more information on other agenda items, please visit sabattus.org.


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