(Originally from the Lincoln News)
PASSADUMKEAG – Officials from Howland and Passadumkeag will meet again over the town’s fire coverage after comments by Howland’s town manager highlighted concerns Howland had over the current contract, causing Passadumkeag selectmen to raise questions of their own.
During Monday, July 17 regular Howland selectmen’s meeting, Town Manager David Wilson informed his board that “throughout the course of several months, a lot of issues were not upheld.”
“We’re at a point in this cycle where they need to stop that.”
The comments and following article in the July 20 NEWS caused Passadumkeag Selectman Robbie Arnold to reach out to both Wilson and Howland Fire Chief Josh McNally for clarification.
“In talking to them, they said that they were going to only offer us a year contract,” Arnold said.
“We haven’t gotten any notification they are opting out of this, and it is 60 days (notification to leave the contract),” Board Chair Todd Rogers said.
Wilson, however, said it was the opinion of Howland officials that Passadumkeag had already voided the original contract.
Passadumkeag has been late on at least one monthly payment.
Earlier this year, while contracting fire services from Howland, a representative of Passadumkeag’s fire department canceled them in route to an incident. The town also did not notify any of their mutual aid partners that it no longer had an active department and any requests for help needed to be directed to Howland.
Later, when Passadumkeag started rebuilding its fire department, Howland was not formally notified they were up and running, creating confusion on who was responsible for responding to
emergencies despite the existing contract.
“In my mind, the biggest issue is the confusion,” McNally said. “(Passadumkeag Chief Randy Davis) and I talked about the need to have better communication between the two towns.”
“If they are not going to follow the tiny details, the big picture is not going to work,” Wilson said.
Rogers said he will be meeting with Wilson and McNally to discuss the issue, stating that the poor accounting on behalf of Howland led to the perception the payment was late.
“When they made this decision they were miscommunicated,” Rogers said. “They misunderstood that they were shorted a payment. I’m not sure how that discussion is going to go.”
Rogers was also concerned that the town would not be able to afford a yearly contract if Howland was going to ask for the full payment up front. “They need to hear that from us so that they know,” Rogers said. “If they want to have this contract in and have the lease to our truck and keep things going, then that’s not the way to go.”
McNally said that was not the intention of the new contract. He said the new agreement would provide an option for quarterly payments. More importantly, however, it added more detail to the
agreement and removed the clause of Howland leasing Passadumkeag’s tanker.
Wilson echoed McNally’s sentiment, stating he and McNally knew Passadumkeag would pay the monthly bill, but instead it was not any one thing that led to the opinion Passadumkeag had
breached the original contract, but a series of small issues.
“We are not going to play the vicious cycle of same offer contracts, and they are hemming and hawing,” he said.
Representatives of the two towns and their departments will meet on August 16. The meeting is not open to the public.