EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Fire Chief Les Brown is working to combine the town fire and ambulance services as part of a plan to save the town at least $140,000 annually, town officials say.
The combination would allow money earned by the ambulance service, which charges patients, hospitals and clients such as area rest homes for its use, to go into the Fire Department budget instead of the town reserve fund, said Mark Scally, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
“We are not supposed to be running a for-profit agency [with the ambulance service], so combining the two will help keep that from happening,” Scally said late last week. “We often wondered: Why shouldn’t they do this? It is all part of the same outfit.”
The ambulance service reserve account contains about $220,000, according to Bangor Savings Bank, where the money is kept, Scally said.
The $140,000 savings would come from the effective elimination of at least a portion of the Fire Department budget, which the combination would allow, Scally said. Such a move also could lower the town’s mill rate.
“It certainly couldn’t hurt,” Scally said.
The combination also would allow for the expansion of the regular Fire Department service, as the town would hire firefighter-EMTs or firefighter-paramedics, Scally said.
Brown is due to return to the Board of Selectmen with at least a plan for the combination in February, when the selectmen begin preliminary budget work for the next fiscal year, Scally said.
Brown was not available for comment.