Limestone threatens to end fire service at former Loring air base

9 months ago

LIMESTONE, Maine — Limestone will officially terminate fire service at the former Loring Air Force Base if Loring Development Authority does not pay at least some of the $1.2 million it allegedly owes the town.

Earlier this month, the Limestone Select Board claimed that Loring owes the town $1.2 million for fire and police protection services dating back to 2015. Limestone disbanded its police department in 2023 but still provides fire protection to the 3,800-acre Loring Commerce Center.

Loring Development Authority was established by the state on the former air base. It is not under the town’s jurisdiction, so it contracts with the town for some services. Limestone has provided fire protection to Loring Commerce Center since 2015.

But the town will cease fire protection Sept. 1 if Loring does not pay at least $280,000 of that bill, Limestone Town Manager Alvin Lam said.

As Limestone struggles to keep up with rising town and school expenses, officials are trying to hold Loring accountable for what they claim are unpaid bills that could otherwise go toward town services.

Lam has sent a 14-day notice to Loring President and CEO Carl Flora notifying him of the impending deadline.

Flora had previously said that Loring never received an invoice for fire and police services eight years ago nor had the development authority refused to pay any amount. He said that Loring had been paying Limestone $20,000 for police coverage but not fire.

Several members of Loring’s board of directors met with the Select Board last week in executive session. No solution was reached, and Loring’s board has not been in touch with town leaders since, Select Board Chair Randy Brooker said.

Loring board member Grace O’Neal of Limestone told the Select Board Wednesday that Loring’s 13-member board has been unable to meet due to various professional commitments. But the board will attempt to meet Aug. 29 or 30 to discuss the town’s claim, O’Neal said.

Lam is moving forward with the 14-day notice regardless of the Loring board’s plans. The Select Board authorized him to work with Loring on a new fire service contract, should that board propose a “reasonable” solution by Sept. 1.

Lam said a special town meeting has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 to discuss issues with the Loring Development Authority. He invited members of the public, including employees at Loring Commerce Center, to attend.

The Loring Development Authority was established in 1993 by the Maine Legislature to oversee redevelopment of Loring Air Force Base after its closure. State law defines the authority as a public municipal corporation. Its board includes 13 members appointed by the governor, seven of whom must be from Aroostook County.