RUMFORD — Fire Chief Chris Reed said he would like his department to start billing for services such as car accidents, traffic control, debris cleanup and search and rescue.

Thirty-nine towns in Maine are doing so and another 18 are considering it, he told selectmen last month.

Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

“So I do think it’s a revenue that we should look at intelligently and probably do because we’re missing the boat,” he said. “The bottom line is the consumer is paying the insurance premium to have it done.”

Town Manager Stacy Carter said it would require an ordinance, a hearing in February and a vote at the annual town meeting in June.

“The chief is right,” he said. “People pay for this in their insurance payments. Costs continue to increase for us and this is a way to offset some of that.”

Selectman Peter Chase asked if the town would bill individuals or insurance companies?”

Carter said the town would contract with Central Maine Cost Recovery to do all that work, but it would go to insurance companies, for the most part.”

Reed said it would be an 80-20 split, with the town getting the 80% of the revenue. The town manager and the fire chief would have access to the management controls, and financial controls, where “we would be able to watch and recover what they’re billing for.”

Chase said his concern is people pay taxes to support the Fire Department.

“Now we’re asking them not only to support them with their taxes, but we’re also billing them on top of that for the use of the Fire Department. For me, that’s kind of double dipping,” he said.

Selectmen Jim Theriault and Frank DiConzo said the proposal only involves the insurance companies and Chase responded that it’s the insurance companies that drive up the cost for clients.

“I agree with you,” Reed said. “I would not want to put any Rumford taxpayer in collections. We can throttle that up or throttle that down, according to this company. I’ve researched them extensively. I do think standing by the road where a tractor-trailer has overturned their garbage on Route 232 for six or eight hours, and has cost us thousands of dollars that we should recover.”

Carter said it can be structured so Rumford residents are not charged because they pay for the services through taxes. “We’ll charge non-Rumford residents.”

Chase said he agree to that.

Reed gave another example: The Black to White (Glade) ski area that connects Whitecap Mountain to Black Mountain of Maine.

“We spend resources rescuing you, and you’re from New Jersey,” he said. “I don’t think a Rumford taxpayer should pay for that. I just don’t.”

Carter offered another scenario: “If John Smith crashes his truck. He’s a Rumford resident, but he’s OUI or something. That’s an added cost and I think that we should be recouping what we can. I think there’s certain circumstances where they should be required to pay.”

Board Chairman Chris Brennick said officials should hold a workshop in February to draft an ordinance that is well managed “and there’s no ambiguity about when somebody has to pay and when they don’t have to pay.”

He said be believes they can do that through the policy making.

“Once we have words, pen to paper, this is going to make a lot more sense,” he said. “And we can look at those specific circumstances, and when we want to bill and when we don’t want to bill.”

Carter said, “If it’s not a good ordinance, it won’t get approved,” adding officials can look at ordinances other towns are using and tailor Rumford’s accordingly.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: