LIVERMORE — Regional School Unit 73 directors Tuesday, May 13, voted to continue its contract with Bailey Bros. Ford for bus repairs and maintenance.
The vote was seven to four. Voting in favor were Jay directors Michael Morrell and Lynn Ouellette, Livermore directors Sara Hughes, Steven Langlin and Andrew Sylvester, and Livermore Falls directors Phoebe Pike and Ann Schwab. Opposed were Patrick Mulligan representing Livermore Falls and Jay directors Chairman Robert Staples, Elaine Fitzpatrick and Doug DiPasquale. Jay director Joel Pike and Livermore Falls director Lenia Coates were absent.
The two year contract with the Livermore Falls-based business will begin July 1. The contract’s hourly wage increased $3 to $63 per hour.
At the April 29 meeting directors were given a proposal by Transportation Director Jim Shink for the district to set up its own garage.
The district having its own garage was also suggested last year when the three year contract with Bailey Bros. was up for renewal. A one year extension was signed in June because of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of how things would proceed.
It would cost under $16,000 to set up the maintenance garage, Ouellette said about information she had gathered on Shink’s suggestion. $25 per hour plus benefits equals $37.50 per hour (to hire a mechanic), she noted.
Relying on one person, the district being unable to find a mechanic or losing the one hired was a concern, Ouellette said.
“We all know how hard it is to get help,” Bailey Bros. owner Brenda Brochu said. The district would have to account for record keeping and inspections, she noted.
Looking at ways to save money that comes with Shink’s title, Mulligan said. This is a tough one, supporting a local business or reducing a line item in the budget, he said. With the district having newer buses, preventative rather than catastrophic maintenance would be needed, he added.
“I’m completely torn on how to vote,” Mulligan said.
Staying within the community is important, the directors have a fiscal responsibility to taxpayers, Staples said.
“I’m all for saving money,” Phoebe Pike said. “If this year has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected. I’m not willing to gamble when it comes to transportation for our students, staff.”
Prior to consolidation, Jay schools had a garage, Fitzgerald said. The district wouldn’t be doing it for the first time, she added.
“For the taxpayers in the district we have the ability,” she said. “I appreciate the work that’s been done. We owe it to the taxpayers.”
Merrill’s Garage in Jay had been asked to submit a quote.
“I never heard back from him,” Shink said.
Technology is changing rapidly and the dealer in town has access to that, one director noted.
“This business is in Livermore Falls,” Schwab said. “If it was in Auburn or Farmington it would be an easier decision. I wonder about the consequences, devaluing a viable business in our community. The town isn’t as vibrant as it used to be.”
“I do appreciate your support,” Brochu said following the vote.