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Budget up 12%

Voters eliminate highway department, approve road bond

By Kendra Caruso | Jul 21, 2020
Photo by: Kendra Caruso Frankfort residents vote at the annual town meeting July 18, which was held at the town's ball field.

Frankfort — Frankfort residents voted to eliminate ithe town's highway department and passed a $1 million road maintenance bond during the July 14 referendum vote. They also voted to contract with Winterport Volunteer Ambulance, which came in with a lower bid, over Searsport Ambulance Service at the annual meeting held at the town's ball field July 18.

The close 186-174 vote to eliminate the highway department also privatized the town’s plowing and road maintenance. Local road maintenance company Anderson Construction and Logging was the only company to submit a plowing bid, pricing the work at $152,000. It will take bids in the spring for summer road maintenance.

The town had to appropriate and raise funds to cover the last few months of road maintenance, since its original town meeting set for March 27 had to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown.

Half a dozen residents at the meeting decided to renew the town’s contract with Winterport Ambulance after its $7,500 bid came in under Searsport’s bid of $10,000. Winterport Ambulance Director Phil Higgins said the amount is based on the average of calls it responds to in Frankfort, compared to its bid for Winterport.

Frankfort accounts for 25% of Winterport Ambulance's total calls, Higgins said. Its initial bid to Winterport was $30,000. Higgins took 25% of $30,000 and came up with $7,500.

He said payroll is the primary reason for the service's growing costs. It employs five paramedics and five drivers and has one person on duty at all times. One resident was concerned about the time it takes to respond to a call. She said her elderly grandmother cannot wait long in the event of a health emergency.

Another resident said the station has always arrived in a timely manner when his elderly family members needed assistance.

Searsport Ambulance Director Adrian Stone spoke to residents about what his service offers beyond emergencies, including home monitoring services for individuals who do not qualify for in-home health care services. But it comes at a higher price.

He voiced support for Winterport Ambulance and echoed its struggles with call times. He said sometimes the in-home services can limit how many people are on at once, whereas Winterport Ambulance only responds to emergencies.

Five people are on duty at the Searsport station during the day and they have backup crews, he said. The station is contracted with Waldo County to provide mutual aid in response services and a patient can request an ambulance, regardless of what company the town is contracted with. He cautioned that, because sometimes wait times are longer for specific stations if they are already responding to calls.

The majority of residents voted to enter into a contract with Winterport Ambulance for the 49th year.

Jeffery Anderson won the road commissioner position against Timothy Daley Jr by 59 votes out of a total 365 votes, with 20 blank ballots. Incumbent Steven Imondi, who received 152 votes, won the selectman’s seat against Michael Shaw, who received 135 votes, and Dana Bishop, who received 64 votes.

Thor Gower was voted onto the Planning Board after Shaw and Imondi withdrew from the race and Pamela Peck was voted in as the other planning board member.

This year’s municipal appropriation is $395,034, which is an increase of almost 12% compared to last year’s $395,034 budget. This does not take into account the assessments for the county and school district.

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