Madawaska selectmen address ambulance staffing, alter building permit fees

MADAWASKA, Maine — In a dense, two-hour meeting, the Madawaska Board of Selectmen covered a huge range of town business from discussing the ambulance department and code enforcement standards, to responding to concerns of speeding on back roads and appointing new members to town committees.

The discussion of the ambulance department was two-fold. First, the selectmen responded to concerns raised at the previous meeting by Real Hebert, after a 30-minute delay in waiting for the ambulance to arrive left him concerned about the town’s staffing and back-up policies. Right now, almost half of day shifts are uncovered by a spare crew if a second emergency call comes in.

Selectmen received a report from Ambulance Director Eric Cyr outlining his staffing goals and some programs he hopes to run to fill out his roster. This fall, EMTs Kris Albert and Jessica Page hope to offer a training class in order to recruit more staff.

Hebert was still concerned that not enough was being done. He was in disbelief that the hourly wage for standby crews was just $2 and urged the board to consult with other area departments and consider raising the pay.

“What about an incentive?” Hebert said. “Two dollars? I mean to stay at home for 12 hours for 24 bucks? You’re not going to find many people smart enough to stay home for two dollars.”

Cyr said that the current rate was comparable to other towns, but some selectmen seemed interested in further reflecting on the number. In the buzz of conversation as some attendees left the meeting, Selectman Doug Cyr agreed with Hebert and addressed his fellow board members quietly.

“Nice day like this here? Where’re you going to be?” he said. “You’re not going to be on standby for two bucks an hour.”

In other ambulance department-related discussion the board okayed a three year lease-to-own agreement on a new ambulance — which the department was approved to purchase months ago. The hope is that with the lease format rather than an outright purchase, the town can protect the department’s reserve account for the time being.

During the meeting, the board made major adjustments to the building permit fee structure — now, the town will require permits on all projects at a significantly reduced cost. The changes were made based on recommendations from the planning board as well as in consultation with other town fees.

For projects less than $15,000 in total cost, which used to be exempt from permitting, the building permit fee is now $5. However the fees are down significantly for all projects above that. Construction permits on jobs between $15,000 and $250,000, now cost $50 and on all projects above that tier, $100.

“I don’t want to undercut what it costs us to do the work, but at the same time we want to keep the fees as low as possible to promote people to spend money in building new things in town,” Selectman Jason Boucher said.

The board also committed Tuesday night to install signs advising drivers to slow down near the park on Fox Street, after three different residents approached the selectmen during public comments to alert them that the drivers were not respecting the 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on that and other back roads in town.

“It is out of control,” resident Justin Love said. “I sit there and watch all the time — I’m right across the street from Fox Park, and that’s my issue, there are so many young kids that come running right to the edge and those cars have no respect.”

In other business, the board approved a maximum $2,000 expenditure for a gaga pit for bicentennial park in response to a petition from students and teachers at Madawaska Middle/High School requesting one. The costs will come out of the Recreation Department reserve account.

The selectmen also approved Christina Ouellette, Tyler Pelletier, Derek Young, Clifton Cyr and Chris Michaud to the Planning Board and Paul Lavoie to the Zoning Board of Appeals. They approved Boucher and Selectman Manon Raymond to a subcommittee to evaluate the library budget, and Raymond and Selectman Chris Braley to a personnel policy review committee.

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