GARDINER — Consultants who reviewed the city’s major services presented their report to around 40 attendees of a public hearing held Wednesday night to give residents a chance to provide feedback about the level of services in Gardiner.

The report looked at the city’s fire and ambulance services, public library and police and Public Works Department, which make up a combined 40 percent of the city’s budget. It compared the services and costs to those of surrounding or similar communities, and it laid out options for ways to improve services, cut costs and increase revenue.

Although the report described options for outsourcing some of the city’s services, it didn’t recommend any major changes. Going forward, city councilors are expected to review the report’s recommendations for the various departments at upcoming City Council meetings.

The report, which cost the city about $25,000, largely found that Gardiner’s services and costs were comparable to those of other communities.

Consultants who reviewed the city’s services for New Hampshire-based Municipal Resources Inc. presented their findings and answered questions from attendees about the report at the public hearing Wednesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Gardiner.

For the review of the Police Department, the consultants contacted the Maine State Police and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office to ask whether the departments were interested in taking over police work in Gardiner. State police declined to consider serving Gardiner, and a proposal from the sheriff’s office was more costly than the city’s police budget.


The report also looked at options for regionalization, particularly in the emergency services. George Klauber, who reviewed the fire and ambulance services, said Gardiner’s Fire Department is already essentially a regional service because of mutual and automatic aid agreements with surrounding communities and shared trainings.

It tends to be difficult to form actual regional emergency services in New England, Klauber said, partly because the county governments usually aren’t as strong as they are in the Midwest and South, where regionalization is more common.

But Klauber said there is the potential for more efficient fire departments by developing a regional service, especially with equipment purchases.

The report also recommended increasing the number of on-call firefighters to increase the level of service without adding new staff.

Recommendations in the public works review included storing more salt and sand in the public works garage and reviewing the overall pavement maintenance program to extend the life of the roads and to reduce the long-term costs.

Some cost-saving measures, such as heating the public works garage with wood pellets, are already in place, said Rodney Bartlett, a consultant who looked at public works.


Bartlett told attendees that the number of employees, the equipment, the other costs at the department and the level of service are comparable to those of other typical New England and area municipalities.

“I think you’re getting your money’s worth,” Bartlett said in response to a question about the value of the residents’ tax dollars.

Irja Finn, who reviewed the library services, said the Gardiner Library Association, which owns and maintains the library position, is valuable to the community. The association supplements library programs and materials, and it helped fund the recent renovation of the archives room, she said.

“Without the Gardiner Library Association, you would have much-diminished services for your library dollars,” Finn said.

The report’s options for possible savings included reducing the library’s hours, not filling the open children’s librarian position and eliminating the archivist position.

A recommendation to revise the cost formula for member communities is something the library already is looking into, Library Director Anne Davis said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig

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