MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday to hold a special town meeting on whether to pay Med-Care Ambulance an additional $10,480 to cover a cash shortage.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, in the Calvin Lyons meeting room downstairs in the Town Hall.

Selectman Reggie Arsenault, who is on the ambulance service board, said the one-time $4 per person charge is being made to the 11 towns served by the service because the unpredictability of Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance has created cash flow problems that affect daily operations.

The town currently pays $24 per person.

Arsenault said part of the problem is that “a lot of people have Obamacare with a high deductible and are not paying their bills.

“We have $60,000 to $70,000 in write-offs each year,” he said. “It was a hard decision to make, but it’s needed to keep a viable service.”

Board Chairman Richie Philbrick said because the money wasn’t budgeted, a special town meeting will be necessary to approve it.

“It’s not right,” he said.

Selectman Cliff Stewart agreed.

“This past summer, we signed a 10-year agreement. Now they’re going up on prices,” he said. “We’ve got to let people know. Go to the town and let them decide.”

Stewart asked about options if the town doesn’t pay or opts out of the contract.

Arsenault said the interlocal agreement requires towns to pay.

“Unless we go arbitration,” Town Manager Jack Gaudet said.

Selectman Byron Ouellette said the service provided by Med-Care is “the most economic way to have ambulance service for what we pay.”

Arsenault said he could request Med-Care President Bob Chase and Treasurer Jim Pulsifer attend the March 12 meeting to answer questions at the special town meeting.

“They should be there,” Philbrick said.

The one-time assessments to other member towns are: $3,726 for Andover, $580 for Byron, $3,784 for Canton, $2,248 for Carthage, $9,852 for Dixfield, $944 for Hanover, $1,320 for Newry, $6,236 for Peru, $1,444 for Roxbury and $22,564 for Rumford.

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Mexico officials consider a request from Med-Care Ambulance for additional money Tuesday. From left are Selectmen Reggie Arsenault and TJ Williams, Town Manager Jack Gaudet, board Chairman Richie Philbrick and Selectman Cliff Stewart. Not pictured is Selectman Byron Ouellette. (Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin)

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