Contract with sheriff signed

TREMONT — Selectmen have approved and signed a one-year contract with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office for 30 hours of police coverage for the town, beginning in January.

County Sheriff Scott Kane told the Board of Selectmen on Monday that his office couldn’t offer a three-year contract just yet because of union negotiations. But a multi-year contract will be ready to present at the next annual town meeting in the spring, he said.

There were 80 votes cast by paper ballot at a special town meeting on Oct. 10 to decide whether to switch to coverage by neighboring town Southwest Harbor’s police department. In a vote of 29-51, residents decided against entering into a three-year contract for law enforcement coverage by Southwest Harbor and instead chose to continue with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.

“Thank you very much for your support,” Kane said to selectmen at the meeting Monday night. “We enjoy working here in Tremont.”

In the proposed contract from Southwest Harbor, 30 hours of police coverage each week would cost about $143,000 per year. That cost did not include a per call charge of $50 for any calls received outside that 30 hours of coverage.

County costs are billed on an hourly basis at $64 per hour worked in the town. If all 30 hours were worked throughout the year of the contract, that total comes to $99,800.

Deputies from the sheriff’s office are contracted to cover the town exclusively for 30 hours per week. Outside that schedule, the town is covered by Maine State Police or the sheriff’s office, depending on which agency has the coverage ‘slot’ at that time under a call-sharing agreement.

“Right now, in each county there are two zones and the county has one and the state police has one,” said Maine State Police Colonel John Cote told TV station WABI recently.

“So, what we want to do is divide each county into three zones so that we take one zone which is a little bit smaller than our current deal and the county takes two zones, which expands their footprint a little bit.

“Between operational calls, training, instructing, the responsibilities of our troopers draw them out of those counties frequently,” he added. “So, we are just trying to make it more of a balanced workload between those agencies and ours.”

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