HOULTON — Aroostook County commissioners gave Sheriff Ted St. Pierre the go-ahead Wednesday night to discuss with Fort Fairfield officials the possibility of the county’s providing police protection to the town.
The town had made a request for a proposal to the county as part of the efforts begun last year to review all municipal services. The review was to determine if services could be done more efficiently by the private sector or by being contracted out, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said Wednesday.
He said the request to the county was not the result of any definite decision, but was merely part of the overall review process.
Conlogue said that in the current fiscal budget which ends June 30, the town budgeted $191,000 for its police department. The town has a four-person, full-time department, including the chief, and eight reserve officers.
St. Pierre told county commissioners Wednesday night that preliminary estimates for the county to provide the service run between $171,000 and $200,000.
“I have a feeling it could catch on,” said Commissioner John McElwee of Caribou about the idea of the county providing more police services in the region. “With a declining population, it sort of makes sense.”
He cautioned, however, that any proposal that was developed should make sure that other towns in the county do not end up subsidizing police services in Fort Fairfield.
St. Pierre will outline a final proposal to the commission at its Feb. 4 meeting in Fort Kent.
Meanwhile, the town of Fort Fairfield continues its efforts to replace former Police Chief Neil Saucier, who left that post last month to go to Bosnia to help the United Nations train law enforcement officers there.
Conlogue said there were 19 applicants for the job, and town officials had hoped to have a selection made by the end of the month.
Part of that will depend on the proposal from the county. Conlogue said if the Town Council wants to explore further the possibility of using the Sheriff’s Department in the town, he will delay making a recommendation for the chief’s job.
In more routine matters, the commission awarded several contracts to municipalities for services to be provided to unorganized territories in Aroostook County.
Presque Isle was awarded a one-year contract to provide solid waste service to Squa Pan Township for $6,902.
A one-year contract was awarded to Ambulance Service Inc. of Fort Kent to provide service to Township 15 Range 6, Township 17 Range 4, and Township 17 Range 5 for $12,362.
Caribou was awarded a one-year contract to provide ambulance service to Conner for $4,211 and to Township 16 Range 4 for $999.
The commissioners also opened two bids for fire protection to Benedicta and Silver Ridge townships in southern Aroostook County.
The town of Sherman, which now holds the contract, has offered the service for $10,062 a year for three years: $6,768 for Benedicta and $3,294 for Silver Ridge.
The town of Stacyville has offered to provide the service for $6,000 a year for three years at $3,000 for each township.
Before offering a contract, County Administrator Roland Martin and public works Director David Cyr will evaluate each bid. Among the factors that will be considered is the distance each fire department must travel to reach the townships.