An April survey by the Wiscasset Public Safety Advisory Council shows support among Wiscasset residents for the town’s ambulance service and police department.
The nine-question survey received 181 responses. It was open from April 5 to May 4 and posted on the town’s website and the Wiscasset Police Department’s Facebook page. The survey was developed in March.
Colleen Gilliam, a co-chair of the Wiscasset Public Safety Advisory Council, said the survey was developed to understand residents’ feelings on emergency services in the town.
Participants prefer to have a town police department whose sole responsibility is for Wiscasset residents, with 100 respondents, or 55.3 percent, saying this is very or extremely important.
Respondents also support the town having its own ambulance service to provide 24-hour coverage, with 95 or 52.78 percent of respondents indicating it is either very or extremely important to them. One participant skipped the question.
Most participants supported the idea of implementing a capital improvement plan for safety equipment and emergency vehicles. Out of 181 participants, 118 showed support, with 47 probably in support and 71 definitely in support of the plan.
Of the respondents, 55.3 percent, or 99, said the town should not reduce the existing budget for emergency services – ambulance, fire, and police – in efforts to reduce the municipal budget. Two respondents skipped the question.
A nearly even number of participants would or would not support an increase in funding for emergency services. Of the respondents, 92 probably or definitely would support an increase in funding, while 88 probably or definitely would not. One respondent skipped the question.
The survey also asked questions about respondents’ experience with the town’s ambulance, fire, and police services; their view of the importance of a police presence in the community and its schools; and the importance of firefighter recruitment.
See end of article for full survey results.
“As a committee, we want to support our public safety,” Gilliam said. Yet, the council was also “paying attention to those who didn’t want to keep the police,” she said.
In June 2015, Wiscasset residents voted 342-209 against the discontinuation of the police department.
On March 15 of this year, the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen decided to call another vote on whether to keep the Wiscasset Ambulance Service and the police department. However, the selectmen reversed their decision March 26.
The town did ask Central Lincoln County Ambulance Service Inc. for a proposal to take over ambulance service in Wiscasset.
CLC’s proposal offers two options for a two-year agreement. In the first, the cost for the first two years would be $175,000 per year.
Under the proposal, CLC Ambulance would “maintain a presence” in Wiscasset and provide 24-hour coverage. CLC would negotiate with Edgecomb and Westport Island to cover those towns, but would not offer coverage to Dresden.
The contract calls for Wiscasset to lease its communications, medical, and office equipment to CLC for $1 for two years, to lease CLC the ambulance station for the cost of the electric bill, and to sell CLC the better of its two ambulances, with all equipment and supplies, for $1.
CLC would assume all bad patient debt as of the change-over date. A representative of Wiscasset could sit on the CLC board, but could not vote, and Wiscasset Ambulance staff could apply for a job with CLC.
The only difference between the two options concerns a 2013 PL Custom ambulance the town is in the process of buying.
Under the first option, the town would cancel the order. Under the second, the town would sell the ambulance to CLC for $100,000. CLC would deduct $50,000 from the $175,000 contract price for each of the first two years to pay for the ambulance.
According to the proposal, at the end of the two years, all purchased equipment would become CLC property. If the agreement ends before the two years are up, the equipment leased from Wiscasset would be returned. Either Wiscasset or CLC could cancel the agreement for any reason with 30 days of notice.
Wiscasset Police Chief Jeffrey Lange said the police department sometimes provides a driver to the ambulance service. It could not do so if CLC replaces Wiscasset Ambulance, because the town and the ambulance service would be separate entities, which could create a liability issue.
On May 1, the selectmen, in a 3-2 vote, recommended a Wiscasset Ambulance Service budget of $563,227 for 2018-2019. The figure was 15.64 less than the requested budget of $667,613.Wiscasset survey results