HOULTON, Maine — Town officials took steps Monday evening to save money by cutting costs and accepting donations to benefit the community.
Town councilors first opted to contract with the city of Caribou to handle the billing services for the Houlton Ambulance Department.
Right now, the billing is done by Medical Billing Services of Presque Isle, but councilors voted unanimously to turn to Caribou for the same service.
Town Manager Doug Hazlett said that he and Milton Cone, the town’s fire chief and ambulance director, started exploring billing options in order to cut costs and retain efficiency.
Hazlett said the Caribou City Council had voted in favor of the agreement earlier in the spring.
Caribou developed a billing proposal for Houlton in March and expects to take in more revenue as a result of the agreement. The billing switch is expected to take place next month.
In other business, councilors accepted some donations on behalf of the town.
The council accepted $1,000 from Wal-Mart and $375 from Savings Bank of Maine to benefit the Just for Kids playground. Houlton officials said the money would allow the city to expand and renovate the Community Park playground, which is in need of replacements for its aging equipment, among other improvements.
The council also accepted $1,000 from the Brandon Cottle Memorial Fund to be used for improvements to the gym at the Gentle Memorial Building.
Another $1,000 came from the U.S. Tennis Association New England. That money will be used for development and equipment needed for a QuickStart Youth Tennis Program this summer.
According to its Web site, QuickStart Tennis is designed to use specialized equipment, shorter court dimensions and modified scoring to better teach youths how to play the game.
The final award was a $5,000 grant from the state Bureau of Highway Safety. Police Chief Butch Asselin told councilors the money will be used to put more officers on the streets over the next few weeks to crack down on speeders.