NEW GLOUCESTER — The budget process has been put on hold because of ongoing deliberations over compensation for the town’s fire and rescue department.

Town Manager Carrie Castonguay on Wednesday said a budget meeting and public hearing on the draft spending plan scheduled for March 13 and 20, respectively, have been canceled.

She said work began last summer to find a compensation package for fire fighters and rescue responders who currently earn $15 per call or training session, no matter how much time they give to the service.

Castonguay said the study group had “bad data” on the number of calls for ambulance service, making the task more difficult.

She expects additional information from United Ambulance of Lewiston-Auburn about outsourcing the town’s ambulance service 24/7. That had been provided in the past until the town approved local transport by the town’s rescue unit more than five years ago.

All budget requests must be finalized before selectmen sign the warrant for the annual town meeting slated for May 6.  The warrant must be signed no later than April 22, Castonguay said.

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