WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday will consider overriding Mayor Nick Isgro’s veto of a vote the council took Oct. 15 to buy two used ambulances with an eye toward developing a city ambulance transport service.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Chace Community Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St.

The Waterville City Council meets at the Chace Community Forum in the Colby dorm downtown. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

The council on Nov. 6 voted 7-0 to postpone the decision on overriding the veto.

Councilors voted 6-0 Oct. 15 to buy two used ambulances for $131,000. Isgro vetoed the vote three days later, saying more time was needed for information to be gathered by both the council and the public.

The Oct. 18 veto says the council formed a committee to study fire department needs, the panel met behind closed doors, and less than a month later it recommended the council approve the ambulance purchases — which it did, unanimously. He said more time should have been spent researching the plan, including having an unbiased, third-party review of costs and revenue projections.

The fire department is not licensed as an ambulance service authorized to take patients to hospitals. While its rescue service responds to accidents and other incidents, only Delta Ambulance, with which the city contracts, may transport patients. Delta responds to all 911 calls and always has a paramedic on board.

Isgro issued a memo to the council, City Manager Michael Roy and Fire Chief Shawn Esler dated Oct. 29, recommending the council vote to table the request to override.

Esler and councilors Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, and Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, are members of the study committee and pushed to develop a city ambulance transport service, which they say would serve as a backup to Delta, generate revenue for the city and help decrease delays in response time.

All proposed city purchases exceeding $10,000 require a competitive bid process except those rare cases where the items purchased are “unique or non-competitive,” a point Isgro made in his memo. He quoted an opinion issued by City Solicitor William A. Lee III that says there was no publication in the newspaper and only two vendors were contacted for the ambulance purchase. Lee also said a quick internet search revealed there are many vendors of used ambulances between Maine and Massachusetts.

“It is a competitive market with many possibilities,” Lee’s opinion reads. “In my opinion, the proposed purchase of used ambulances does not meet the criteria of ‘unique or non-competitive.’ To determine otherwise would have the narrow exception swallow the rule.”

Isgro says Roy should have been involved in discussions. A memo from Roy in the Nov. 6 council agenda packet  says the question about buying ambulances is not just about purchasing two vehicles; it is also about having proper staffing and adequate emergency medical care for residents, and about how having an ambulance service would affect the city’s tax rate over time. Roy said he deliberately was left out of discussions about the purchase.

The council voted Oct. 15 to buy one ambulance from Autotronics, with addresses in Frenchville, Madawaska and Bangor. It is a 2011 Chevy diesel Osage Ambulance, with 74,160 miles on it, for $55,000. The other ambulance is a 2012 Chevy diesel P.S. Custom Ambulance, with 95,500 miles, for $47,500. As part of the vote, the council approved buying two used Stryker Power-Cots for $18,000. With discounts, the total cost to the city would be $111,000.

After voting Tuesday on the override issue, the council is scheduled to consider whether to buy the used ambulances.

Waterville City Council will address a proposal to move the walkway between the Center and Waterville City Hall on Tuesday. Morning Sentinel file photo by David Leaming

In other matters Tuesday, the city’s annual report is expected to be dedicated to Thomas R.W. Longstaff, a former state representative, city councilor and charter commission member who serves on the board of directors for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, is a member of Waterville Rotary Club and is involved in the community in other ways.

Councilors will consider buying cardiac monitors for the fire department from Stryker Lifepak for $397,213. The city previously accepted a federal award for $370,415 and ordered that $12,347 be used for the equipment from the capital improvement reserve fund. Funds are expected from other municipalities as well.

The council will consider authorizing Waterville Creates! to replace and relocate, at its own expense, the existing pedestrian sky-walk between 93 Main St., also known as The Center, and City Hall. Two votes are needed to finalize the order and only one vote may be taken Tuesday. The new sky-walk would be the same size as the current one, but would be moved so it enters in the City Hall area around the Opera House executive director’s office instead of in the hallway at the top of the stairs leading to the Opera House itself.

Councilors will consider supporting Waterville Junior High School as the location for the March 3 presidential primary, as the usual voting location, Thomas College field house, is not available on that date. They also will consider amending the city’s property maintenance ordinance.

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