HALLOWELL — The Fire Services Committee moved another step closer Saturday to making a recommendation on the future of fire protection services in Hallowell.

The committee plans to host a final public hearing at 5 p.m. Thursday and hopes to make a recommendation to the City Council on Nov. 7.

More than 30 people attended a meeting Saturday morning to hear proposals from fire departments in Augusta, Hallowell and Farmingdale.

City Manager Nate Rudy said all three proposals were presented well and that the committee asked good questions and got a full picture of each scenario.

Under the Augusta proposal, Hallowell would disband its current department and contract services with the state capital’s Fire Department. There would be little to no overhead cost to Hallowell, and its residents would be served by a full-time department.

This scenario would be fast to implement, and Chief Roger Audette said he would expect the contract to start Jan. 1. The plan would cost roughly an average of $180,092 per year over 10 years, all for personnel, and it would add $100.91 in yearly tax based on $182,000 of valuation. It is the most expensive scenario to individual property owners.

Hallowell Fire Chief Mike Grant, who has been a part of the department for more than 30 years, has opposed the Augusta proposal because he thinks Hallowell deserves its own department served by firefighters stationed in Hallowell’s city limits. Grant has indicated he does not intend to seek re-appointment at the end of the year.

The Farmingdale plan would cost a little more than $118,000 per year for 10 years. Under that option, Hallowell would lease space in Farmingdale’s fire station and operate a completely autonomous department. At the meeting Saturday, Farmingdale Selectman Wayne Kilgore said Hallowell would lease one bay, which would have space for two firetrucks, in the town’s new station.

Farmingdale has received approval from the town to spend up to $250,000 on a piece of property in the Maine Avenue corridor for a new fire station. The Board of Selectmen plans to ask at the June 2017 Town Meeting for the funding to build a state-of-the-art, four-bay station.

One of the advantages of the Farmingdale plan is that Hallowell would keep its Fire Department, which most agree includes dedicated and well-trained firefighers. Grant said the two departments often train together and have good rapport with each other. One disadvantage, Grant said, is that leasing or part-ownership of a building is less tangible than complete ownership of a fire station.

That plan would add about $53.43 per year of property tax based on $182,000 in home valuation, making it the cheapest of the three scenarios.

Arguably the most ambitious plan is the one proposed a few weeks ago by Grant and Stevens Commons owner/developer Matt Morrill. The two proposed creating a new Public Safety Department and building a station next to the Stevens campus’s Erskine Building as part of a multi-phase plan. That plan ultimately would include renovation and conversion of part of that building to house the fire, police and emergency management departments.

Over 10 years, that plan is the most expensive of the three at nearly $2.3 million, which includes $800,000 for the construction of the new building. It would add $80.42 in property tax yearly based on the same $182,000 of valuation.

Hallowell would raise $1.098 million by a bond issue for that plan, and including interest, the city would pay back almost $1.5 million over 20 years for the bond.

Committee Chairman Bob Duplessie made it clear that Saturday’s meeting was meant purely to gather facts and pertinent information in order to begin serious deliberations and hopefully a vote at the meeting Thursday.

Rudy said several people in attendance told him the material was presented as clearly as it ever has been to the committee and the public. A packet provided to everyone at the meeting contained detailed figures on each proposal and line-by-line budget data projected over the next 10 years.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.