HERMON, Maine — Town councilors voted Thursday night to seek proposals for ambulance services, which for the last 42 years have been provided by a nonprofit volunteer squad.
The move to solicit proposals was driven in large part by the town’s insurance company and the level of compensation sought by the Hermon Volunteer Rescue Squad, Fire Chief Ray Pipes said Friday.
He said the decision to seek contract proposals, a concept that has been discussed locally for several years, was based upon the need to protect the town as well as the service provider.
Despite that, Pipes said, local officials did not initially approach any other provider out of respect for the long-standing relationship between the town and its volunteer crew.
“In these times, unfortunately, contracts are needed,” Pipes said Friday in a telephone interview. “The town’s insurance company has been pushing for a contract and the town attorney felt it was in the town’s best interest,” he said.
As it stands, the town has provided as much as $35,000 a year to support the squad’s work on a donation basis.
The crew also offsets costs through customer billing, according to news stories previously published in the Bangor Daily News.
During the most recent round of contract negotiations, the compensation level sought by the squad exceeded Hermon’s bid policy and the council felt that for an integral service such as ambulance services, it was best not to waive the policy, Pipes said in a news release issued Friday.
As a matter of policy, the town is required to seek bids for any purchase over $25,000, Pipes said. He said the town charter also requires that a special town meeting be held in order to approve unbudgeted expenditures of more than $25,000.
According to Pipes, when the current round of contract talks began last spring, the volunteer squad asked for $60,000 a year in compensation.
The group’s most recent offer, submitted last month, called for a three-year agreement at a cost of $40,000 for the first year of service, $50,000 for the second year and $60,000 for the year after that, Pipes said.
While he declined to comment on the matter, Steven Watson, chairman of Hermon Rescue’s board of directors, confirmed Friday that the 28-member volunteer squad plans to be among the applicants.
“I would well imagine we’ll be submitting a proposal,” Watson said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.
Besides publicizing its search for proposals through a news release, the town sent application invitations to existing ambulance services as well as to some of the area’s larger municipalities, Pipes said.
The deadline for submitting proposals is Jan. 31. Proposals should be submitted to the Hermon town office at 333 Billings Road, Hermon 04402, by calling Pipes at 848-5910 or e-mailing Pipes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pipes can be reached at the above telephone number or e-mail address for more information.