LINCOLN, Maine — Town officials will negotiate a pay raise with the town’s firefighters union as part of the creation of a new fire captain’s position but still expect to save taxpayers roughly $36,000 annually, they said Monday.
Lincoln Public Safety Director Dan Summers expects to begin negotiations with Local 3038 of the International Association of Fire Fighters on Jan. 9. The salary for the fire engineer captain post will be set by the time the union’s contract expires in July, Summers said.
As approved 7-0 by the Town Council on Dec. 9, the new position is likely to be filled from within and will oversee the Fire Department during Summers’ absence.
“This is geared toward the immediate supervision of the engineers when they are at the station,” Summers said Monday. “No one has any supervisory authority while at the station to ensure that projects get done. Basically I am looking for someone to carry forward my agenda when I am not here.”
The council voted 6-1 in August to appoint Summers, a deputy chief in the Skowhegan Police Department, as the town’s first public safety director to save money. Millinocket town leaders appointed Police Chief Steve Kenyon their fire chief effective this week for the same reason. Millinocket saves about $45,000, plus benefits, by leaving unfilled the $55,000-a-year salaried position vacated in November by resigning Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte, Millinocket Town Manager Peggy Daigle has said.
Kenyon will not be named Millinocket’s public safety director and Millinocket probably does not need a new Fire Department position. Millinocket Deputy Chief Thomas Malcolm is full-time, Kenyon said Monday.
Lincoln leaders sought to offset rising costs that forced the town’s mill rate from $19.86 per $1,000 of valuation to $22.96. Millinocket’s cash shortage was so severe that it flirted with bankruptcy for most of the past year, although it had a $1.7 million cash balance as of Monday, Daigle said.
Any savings are critical to Lincoln as layoffs continue at Lincoln Paper and Tissue, LLC., the region’s largest employer. State Labor Department officials are due to meet Friday to set an agenda for further meetings next month with laid-off workers, Lincoln Town Manager William Lawrence said.
Lawrence and Summers declined to discuss salary costs for the new position, but doubted any raise would be substantial.