HARRISON — Voters in Harrison will consider approving money for a full-time fire chief, stipends for either one or two station employees, a $200,000 allocation to a fire truck reserve account, and the town’s municipal budget during annual town meeting at Harrison Elementary School at 6 p.m. June 12.

For the past two years, residents have voted against similar proposals for a full-time fire chief and additional per diem staff. Last year, voters expressed a desire to have a feasibility study done, which was paid for using American Rescue Plan Act funds, to determine what the precise needs of the Harrison Fire Department are, Town Manager Cass Newell said.

Harrison contracted with Plymouth, N.H.-based Municipal Resources Inc., which delivered a report in March, and available on the town’s website at harrisonmaine.org. A full-time fire chief and per diem positions are both recommendations from the report. If the full-time chief is not approved, the per diem article will not be voted on.

Newell explained that a full-time chief will be needed to deal with all the administrative work, including expected additional requirements from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that she said are “extremely concerning for rural fire departments and their staff.”

“The fire study has given us clarity in the form of infrastructure recommendations, personnel recommendations, and equipment recommendations,” Newell said.

If the $63,000 line item for a full-time chief is approved, then a formal process would be undertaken to interview candidates and eventually hire a full-time chief, she said.


Article 20 will allow voters the option to consider approving either one per diem individual per 12-hour shift for five days per week of station coverage for $81,000 or approve two per diem positions for a total cost of $162,000.

Article 21 asks for $200,000 to be allocated to a capital reserve account for the future purchase of a fire truck.

The total fire department budget, which is separate from the three additional requests, is $195,497, up $10,509 or 5.7%, from last year’s budget.

Also included in the annual town meeting warrant are amendments to the building permit ordinance and fire new shoreland zoning and short-term rental ordinances.

The shoreland zoning ordinance has to be adopted as a new ordinance with non-substantive changes made to comply with new state requirements, Newell said.

The amendments to the building permit ordinance correct some minor errors and will add a requirement for a sprinkler system to be installed in any accessory dwelling unit installed on a property that is less than 40,000 square feet, Harrison Code Enforcement Officer Jim Fahey explained.


Currently, Harrison does not allow accessory dwelling units to be installed on lots less than 40,000 square feet, but a new state law is overriding local control in this matter to allow secondary housing on undersized lots. So, voters will consider amending the ordinance to require a sprinkler system be installed for any accessory unit on a lot less than 40,000 square feet.

The short-term rental ordinance is simply creating regulations for these types of uses, so they can be inspected and ensure the units are safe and are not overloading the septic system, Fahey said.

Article 29 asks voters to approve raising and appropriating $441,128 for the Cumberland County tax assessment. Since Cumberland County switched from a calendar year to a fiscal year to align with municipalities, there is a shortfall that must be made up front the shift, Newell said.

Harrison has elected to pay that extra amount over four years to the county, with article 29 asking voters to appropriate $36,183 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to cover this amount. The $36,183 is not being raised, therefore it will not have an impact on residents’ tax burden.

Newell also mentioned that the town’s revaluation of property has completed and residents will be receiving letters informing them of their property’s new assessed value and can come in and ask questions at the town office.

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