EMS issue difficult all the way around
To the Editor:
I am in my eighth year serving on the Caribou City Council. Once in a while we get to make a decision that is easy and non-controversial. But most of them aren’t. Some will affect people in a negative way, such as the EMS/fire contracts we are now facing.
To say that the people of these towns who are facing the huge increases that Caribou has had to impose on the EMS services are overwhelmed and shocked has to be an understatement. So are we. When push came to shove and we finally figured this all out, my first thought was “What do we do now?” Unfortunately, the answer was staring us in the face. We either raise the contract fees to be more proportionately distributed among Caribou and the communities we service, or cease to service those communities altogether. The bottom line is that Caribou’s taxpayers should not have to carry the burden of subsidizing other towns for these services, which has been happening for many years now.
Caribou has agreed to extend the deadline to March 31. It’s my hope that during this time, the communities can look over all of their options, not just with Caribou, but with other towns, and see what will work best for them. Then, through the year, Caribou and surrounding communities can get together and try to work out a plan that will be more acceptable to everyone involved. In the meantime there is something that we can all do, and that is to inundate our senators and representatives, both on the state and federal level, with phone calls, e-mails and letters. Make them understand that communities statewide need help paying for these essential life-saving services.
As the phrase “I am only one of seven on this council” goes, I will say that I would never vote for reducing our protection services. Not the police, not the firefighters and not the paramedics. In today’s society, we need them more than ever before. I think some comments made by council seemed to infer that, but I don’t believe that was the intention. The point was that we may have to provide services just for Caribou alone if we continue to follow the path we’ve been on, and that’s not something that I would want to see happen.
Let’s slow down, take a breath, put our thinking caps on and take the time to work things out. We also need time to see how the options that have been chosen are working out for everyone. I think Caribou has always been a good neighbor, and we want to continue to do so, but we have to be able to afford to be that good neighbor.