In light of insufficient funds for fire department, Veazie to consider aid proposals from Bangor, Orono
VEAZIE, Maine — Town councilors will consider fire protection proposals from neighboring Bangor and Orono during a meeting set for 6:30 p.m. on Monday.
Town councilors are exploring how fire protection will be provided in the future because the level of funding they proposed, and voters approved, for the Veazie Fire Department is not sufficient to cover the cost of employing the department’s two full-time employees.
Town Manager Mark Leonard said Friday that town councilors have asked that the final proposals for coverage from the two nearby communities be kept confidential for the time being but that the terms of both offers will be released to the public during Monday’s meeting.
The town councilors have not presented a plan for future fire and medical coverage, but they did direct town staff to seek proposals for fire protection and emergency medical services from neighboring Bangor and Orono.
In June, the council appointed a five-member panel comprised of town and fire department officials and residents to work through the options available to Veazie. Led by Town Councilor Karen Walker, the group has met several times over the summer.
In earlier versions of proposals from Orono and Bangor, both communities said they would take on Veazie’s current full-time Fire Department employees, Capt. Pete Metcalf and Lt. Nick Sirois, provided they pass a physical agility test and a “fit for duty” medical evaluation and become license paramedics within three years of being hired.
Both proposals also included provisions for fire inspections and fire prevention programming for Veazie Community School students.
The Fire Department’s operating budget for last year totaled $235,354, Leonard said earlier. The original budget proposed for this year totaled $231,767, but as a result of cuts made during budget deliberations and during a public hearing in May, the total stood at $171,767, he said.
Supporters of the Fire Department tried to increase department funding during the annual town meeting in June, but were told the town charter doesn’t allow for that.