The items to be discussed and voted upon at the fall Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, October 28 were discussed at the Marion Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday evening.
After much discussion, the 11 warrant items were approved with some minor adjustments and requests to Town Administrator Paul Dawson for additional information regarding several items. Article 4, addressing the loss of the town’s ability to operate an ambulance operation, dominated the discussion.
Articles 1 through 3 involve requests from the Community Preservation and an Open Space Acquisition item.
The fourth generated a vigorous discussion, which included input from Allan Minard of the Finance Committee. At issue is the fact that the town will lose its license to run an ambulance service after early November due to not meeting state regulations regarding its operation. The question, to be posed at Town Meeting, is whether to hire an outside firm to run the ambulance service at an undetermined cost or do it in house by the Fire Department and EMS at a cost to be borne by town, which would raise taxes.
Minard spoke and said that this quickly approaching deadline left little room to explore the options. Minard said that he and the Finance Committee had little time to discuss and explore the issue due to lack of communication with the Fire Department/EMS, Town Administrator and the Board of Selectmen.
Selectman Dickerson noted that an ambulance was always on call at the Sippican Health Care Center, and perhaps a deal could be made with that vendor. Another option offered was to hire personnel who would be not eligible for health or vacation benefits, thus reducing the cost to the town. Both Dickerson and Steve Cushing struggled with the massive question before them.
Dickerson asked Paul Dawson to gather quotes for an outside service to run the town’s ambulance service.
In addition to the warrant discussion, the Board approved two appointments to boards. Jeff Doubrava is a new member of the Marion Conservation Commission, and Kristen Saint Don-Campbell was appointed to the Marion Cultural Council.
In other business, the Board voted and gave Dawson the approval to sign the contract with CDM-Smith for the repaving of River Road in Fiscal Year 14 and the repaving of Pleasant Street by the end of FY 15. The repaving is a temporary measure to make the road passable, with the underground piping work to be done according to the Capital Improvement Project, which is an ongoing multiyear enterprise.
By Joan Hartnett-Barry