NEWPORT, Maine — Etna’s efforts to decrease expenses could be Newport’s opportunity to increase revenue if a discussion between the two towns about handling solid waste continues.
Newport Town Manager James Ricker told the Board of Selectmen Wednesday night that he and Etna Town Manager Evelyn Serval have been discussing Newport taking over Etna’s municipal solid waste functions. The hope is that by taking advantage of economy of scale, the overall cost to the two towns would be reduced, saving them both money.
Towns combining services with their neighbors in Maine is hardly a new concept, but Ricker urged selectmen to rethink town government structures now to avoid having changes forced on Newport later. Those changes, whether they happen now or in the future, could include combining anything from fire services to police to public works, and could involve more than just two towns.
With revenues dwindling and the cost of just about everything continuing to go up, Ricker envisions a future when local government as it now is known ceases to exist in many areas. Selectmen suggested that Ricker approach other surrounding towns about taking over some services.
“I can’t see any other way to increase revenues except to go with some other towns,” said Selectman Thomas Breitweg. Selectman Christopher Dow echoed that statement and questioned Ricker about possibilities that exist with other nearby towns.
Ricker suggested a joint meeting between Newport and Etna selectmen. The Newport board granted unanimous consent for Ricker to continue talking with Etna.
“Municipal and government entities are going to have to figure out a survival mode,” said Ricker after the meeting. “I think we owe it to our tax base to at least research changes like this.”
Whatever happens, a decision is likely months away and would probably involve a town meeting vote, said Ricker.