FARMINGDALE — Residents approved all budget requests at Saturday’s Town Meeting, including paying to stay with the city of Gardiner’s emergency service instead of switching to a private ambulance provider.

The $1.5 million town budget approved by around 38 residents Saturday afternoon at Hall-Dale High School is less than 2 percent greater, around $28,000, than the budget approved last year.

The only warrant item voters rejected was a proposed amendment to an ordinance that would allow the town to bill people for the cost of cleaning up debris they put in the road, specifically in response to people pushing snow onto roads. Some residents who voted against the ordinance said they thought it was unnecessary because a state law already prohibits it, or they thought it was written too vaguely.

Residents nearly unanimously approved keeping Gardiner’s ambulance service after several people spoke in favor of the neighboring city’s service. One woman said her mother recovered from a stroke thanks to the quick response of Gardiner’s emergency service providers, and another resident said he’s not willing to jeopardize his family’s safety to save a few dollars on his tax bill.

The Board of Selectmen put both Gardiner’s ambulance service and Delta Ambulance Service, a nonprofit organization in Augusta and Waterville, on the town warrant because the cost of Gardiner’s service has increased and Delta offered its service for free, Selectwoman Nancy Frost said.

Gardiner’s service, which also serves Chelsea, Dresden, Litchfield, Pittston, Randolph and West Gardiner, had requested about $35,000, up from a $25,000 request last year. Delta, which provides subsidy-free emergency services to 17 central Maine communities, according to its website, offered to provide ambulance service to Farmingdale for no charge.


Gardiner Fire Chief Al Nelson and Gardiner City Manager Scott Morelli both attended Saturday’s meeting, but they didn’t speak to the audience. The ambulance service brings in revenue by billing individuals and their insurance companies, and it largely funds the city’s full-time Fire Department. A consultant that reviewed Gardiner’s ambulance service last year said that losing any additional towns would undermine significantly the sustainability of the service and the city’s Fire Department.

Another warrant item that generated discussion was the winter road maintenance contract. Residents approved the $219,770 request, but not before some used the opportunity to speak out against the Board of Selectmen and past actions that led to the contract with McGee Construction. That contract is nearly $60,000 higher than a contract with Ellis Construction that the board and the contractor agreed to end a year early last August.

David Sirois, a former selectman who didn’t run for re-election Tuesday, told residents the snowplowing contract probably will end up being even more expensive if the town goes out to bid again. Instead, Sirois proposed borrowing $500,000 to establish a public works department that would do the snowplowing for the town and use a town-owned sand-and-salt facility.

Although some residents said they support the idea, they didn’t think the town should move forward without looking into the issue more extensively, and they rejected Sirois’ effort to amend the warrant article.

Residents at the meeting also approved rejoining Gardiner Public Library for $4,500, a reduction of more than $10,000 from what the town last paid before it left the regional service in 2009. The city of Gardiner offered Farmingdale a lower cost for a two-year trial period to see if the town wants to continue being a member.

Selectman James Grant said last week that the town’s budget probably wouldn’t have increased property taxes, but the school budget approved Tuesday is expected to increase taxes in the town by around 4 percent.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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