MILO, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners, representatives of the towns of Milo and Brownville, and the Sebec Volunteer Fire Department have reached a tentative agreement for fire protection in eastern Piscataquis County’s Unorganized Territory communities.
The agreement, reached at a special meeting in Milo on Tuesday, came after several weeks of discussion and a couple of proposals, including a collaborative bid from the three entities that the commissioners felt were too high.
The commissioners, who were looking to find some parity in fire protection costs among the departments that provide service in the Unorganized Territory, came away from the meeting feeling good, according to Commissioner Tom Lizotte.
“We’re happy because it’s a reasonable price and we can budget it without having to worry about the X factor of how many specific bills we are going to get for calls over and above their basic service,” Lizotte said Wednesday.
For the remainder of the 2010-11 fiscal year that ends June 30, the town and fire officials will continue with the previous formula, which includes a basic price plus call-out fees to cover the Unorganized Township communities of Williamsburg, Katahdin Iron Works, Ebeemee, Barnard and Orneville.
Under a new three-year collaborative contract that begins on June 30, 2011, the towns of Brownville and Milo and the Sebec Fire Department will receive a total of $40,000 with no call-out fees for fire coverage in the five townships. The coverage is only for structures, since the Maine Forest Service handles forest fires.
In the second and third year of the contract, the three entities will be paid $46,000 a year for the coverage of the townships and will divide the proceeds accordingly.
“The UTs are all going to get excellent fire coverage, which is really what the commissioners and we were focused on. We were all focused on trying to maintain proper coverage for all those communities,” Milo Town Manager Jeff Gahagan said Wednesday.
“It was definitely a compromise,” Gahagan said of the final agreement.
The Sebec Fire Department and Milo and Brownville town officials are expected to approve the contract later this month. The commissioners are expected to sign the contract Dec. 21.