RANGELEY — An article initiated by citizen petition and included on the annual meeting warrant has been ruled legal and goes to voters June 14.

It was a major topic at Tuesday’s public hearing on the 78-article warrant.

Cynthia Egan, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said a draft of the firetruck article was presented to selectmen but information requested by selectmen was never received.

Fire Rescue Chief Michael Bacon said Wednesday that he worked with the town manager on the information requested.

The discussion on getting a new truck began in 2020 but it was put off because of COVID-19. In 2021, Bacon said he wrote a grant and the article didn’t get on the warrant because the board wanted to wait to see if the department received it, which it didn’t.

After the citizen petition was presented to selectmen, Town Manager Joe Roach was asked to find out if it was legal and if it capped spending at $750,000. He read the opinion of town attorney, Kristin Collins, of Preti Flaherty in Augusta to the board.


She wrote, “My interpretation and intention when I drafted it (as a very rough draft at the time) was that the sales price of the pumper truck was not to exceed $750,000, and the interest and fees on top of that would be left in the Selectmen’s discretion in negotiating the terms. Of course the amount of the total lease payments must be accounted for elsewhere in the budget.”

The article reads: “Shall the Town authorize the Board of Selectmen and Town Manager to take any actions and execute any documents necessary to enter a Tax Exempt Lease Purchase agreement for the purchase of a Pumper Truck at a total cost not to exceed $750,000, with a term not to exceed 7 years, reserving in the Board of Selectmen the discretion and authority to set the further terms of said agreement.”

The Fire Rescue Department proposes to replace the its 27-year-old Engine 3, which does not meet National Fire Protection Association standards. The truck was purchased in 2016 and based on the number of hours on the engine has the equivalent of 234,540 miles, Bacon said in April. If the truck purchase is approved, Engine 3 would be traded, but it is up to selectmen, he said.

If voters approve buying a 2023 Pierce Enforcer, it would cost about $747,663, according to information in the Town Report. The department is requesting to enter a seven-year lease, with an annual payment of about $43,908, which is Rangeley’s share. That amount is planned to come from the yearly $50,000 raised and/or, appropriated for the department’s reserve.

Rangeley is responsible for 49.4% of the cost of the apparatus with the rest billed to three plantations and commissioners from Franklin and Oxford counties for unorganized territories. The department covers 22 towns and townships in a 650-square mile area, Bacon said.

Using a sample lease-purchase agreement from PNC Equipment Finance in Ohio, Egan said the total cost of the lease would be $870,867.66 and the yearly payment would be $60,960 for the town.


The first payment would be due in fiscal year 2023-24, which begins July 1, 2023.

The sample sent to the town in February was a starting place for the conversation to begin during budget talks, Roach said.

County commissioners and plantations need real numbers to budget, Egan said.

The $747,663 is not the total cost, she said, because there would be interest and legal fees. The board will not be able to comparison shop, she said.

Town Finance Director Rebekah Carmichael-Austin told selectmen interest is not included in a warrant article. If it was a bond question or loan, a treasurer’s statement with estimated interest would be separate from the warrant article, she said.

Selectman Shelly Lowell said because selectmen haven’t handled a petition article before they needed to be sure whether it needed to be followed exactly as written. If that is the case, they won’t have a chance to put it out to bid. The sample lease-purchase agreement presented to the board is for seven years and one month while the petition article has it as seven years, she said.


Selectman Stephen Philbrick said the petition article, B23, is a duly authorized, legal petition and clearly states not to exceed $750,000.

If it’s approved by voters, selectmen will work to potentially purchase and negotiate the price of the truck  with the money authorized by voters, he said. Interest and finance fees are customarily on top of that, he said.

Selectman Ethna Thompson said she never questioned the legitimacy of the petition.

“I am very disappointed in the department and department heads for handling it the way it was done,” Thompson said. “We never said no to this truck. We asked for more information and the fact we didn’t get it is disconcerting and disheartening. Then they back-doored us.”

The proposed municipal budget of $4.72 million is $149,457 more than this fiscal year. It does not factor in an estimated $1 million in revenue.

Residents will vote on the warrant articles at the polls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Town Office.

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