Selectmen reject request for special town meeting

By Fran Gonzalez | Jul 31, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez

Montville — The Liberty Volunteer Ambulance Service recently asked Montville selectmen to consider a special town meeting to review funding options for its service. The board denied the request.

At Montville's town meeting in March, the ambulance service presented residents a variety of funding options to extend EMT coverage. Montville residents approved the middle of three options, voting to appropriate $51,517 to continue the current weekday coverage only.

Subsequently, Liberty residents voted for the highest of the three funding requests, approving $70,204, which means the two towns are not sharing equally in ambulance service costs.

In a letter to residents, Montville selectmen said they denied the ambulance service's request "because the Board agreed that a special town meeting may be poorly attended and decisions made may not reflect the majority of residents."

They hope to readdress the issue in the 2020 annual town meeting in the spring.

Ambulance Chief Chris Birge said he felt discussion at the Montville town meeting was a bit ambiguous and residents were not given all options clearly.

During that town meeting discussion, it became evident early on that the numbers shown in a table in the warrant did not match the numbers Liberty was considering. Montville Selectman Bob Price said selectmen had not been given the information soon enough to get it into their books.

"We will do what we can," Birge said, noting that the service has extended to the weekend, but with Liberty's appropriation. The service can staff one person, but is still in need of an additional crew member.

"We can handle the rest of 2019 with Liberty's money," he said.

"We just don't have the volume," Birge said, as some self-sustaining departments do. He also noted they are not licensed to do transports, which bring in "big money," but also leave the town without a service.

He hopes next year the topic will be revisited and presented equally to each town.

"We already have been talking with both boards," he said. "This was an experiment and it worked a lot better than we thought it would."

Montville selectmen suggested residents who wish to make a tax-deductible donation to the ambulance service should mail it to P.O. Box 174, Liberty, ME 04949.

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