LIVERMORE — Regional School Unit 73 directors Tuesday voted 7-4 to continue contracting Bailey Brothers Ford of Livermore Falls for bus repairs and maintenance.

Voting in favor were Jay Michael Morrell and Lynn Ouellette, both of Jay; Sara Hughes, Steven Langlin and Andrew Sylvester, all of Livermore; and Phoebe Pike and Ann Schwab, both of Livermore Falls.

Opposed were Patrick Mulligan of Livermore Falls and Chairman Robert Staples, Elaine Fitzpatrick and Doug DiPasquale, all of Jay.

Joel Pike of Jay and Lenia Coates of Livermore Falls were absent.

The two-year contract begins July 1 and stipulates the hourly wage of $63, a $3 increase from this year’s contract.

At the April 29 meeting, Transportation Director Jim Shink proposed the district set up its own garage.

It was also suggested last year when the three-year contract with Bailey Brothers was up for renewal. A one-year extension was signed in June because of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of how things would proceed.

It would cost under $16,000 to set up the maintenance garage, Ouellette said, based on information she gathered on Shink’s suggestion. A rate of $25 per hour plus benefits equals $37.50 per hour to hire a mechanic, she noted.

Relying on one person, being unable to find a mechanic or losing the one hired were concerns, Ouellette said.

Looking at ways to save money comes with Shink’s title, Mulligan said. This is a tough one, supporting a local business or reducing a line item in the budget, he said.

“I’m completely torn on how to vote,” he said.

Staying within the community is important, Staples said. Directors have a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers, he added.

“I’m all for saving money,” Pike said. “If this year has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. I’m not willing to gamble when it comes to transportation for our students, staff.”

Prior to forming the three-town district, Jay had a garage, Fitzgerald said. The district wouldn’t be doing it for the first time, she added.

“For the taxpayers in the district we have the ability,” she said. “I appreciate the work that’s been done. We owe it to the taxpayers.”

Technology is changing rapidly and the dealer in town has access to that, one director noted.

“This business is in Livermore Falls,” Schwab said. “If it was in Auburn or Farmington it would be an easier decision. I wonder about the consequences, devaluing a viable business in our community. The town isn’t as vibrant as it used to be.”

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