VEAZIE, Maine — Town councilors last week recognized Veazie’s former fire chief, who retired earlier this year after more than three decades of service
Town Manager Mark Leonard said former Fire Chief Gerry Martin was presented a plaque in honor of his service during a recent council meeting.
Martin, who joined the Veazie Fire Department in 1981, had been chief since at least 2001. His last day with the department was July 31, according to Leonard, who in addition to serving as the town’s police chief has been appointed acting fire chief.
Leonard’s appointment as fire chief comes at a financially challenging time in the department’s history.
The level of funding the town councilors proposed, and voters approved, for the Veazie Fire Department initially was deemed insufficient to cover the cost of the department’s two full-time employees.
The fire department’s operating budget for last fiscal year totaled $235,354, Leonard said. The original budget proposed for this fiscal year was $231,767, but as a result of cuts made during budget deliberations and during a public hearing in May, the total was $171,767.
In looking at the town’s options, town councilors solicited proposals from Bangor and Orono.
Town councilors also received three proposals from Veazie Fire Department members, namely Capt. Pete Metcalf; senior members Lt. Scott Kigas, Lt. David Hjorth and firefighter Scott Ireland; and members of the call department, composed of part-time employees.
Leonard, however, in October devised a plan that will keep the department staffed and operating through the rest of this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2014.
The plan calls for:
— Reducing call back pay from the current automatic minimum of two hours of pay to one hour of pay, which was part of the call department’s proposal. Firefighters going to fire calls lasting more than an hour would be paid by the quarter hour.
— Reducing the pay period hours for the department’s two full-time employees from the current average of 94.62 hours a week to the contractual minimum of 80 hours a week. Limiting pay to 40 hours a week for each full-time employee would save the town more than $7,500, Leonard estimated.