ST. GEORGE — A special town meeting may be held in late February to allow residents to decide whether to create a municipal emergency medical services department.

The St. George Select Board discussed the issue Monday night, Jan. 9 of asking residents to approve a memo of understanding with the independent non-profit St. George EMS agency. Coupled with that would be deciding whether to create a municipal EMS department.

The plan is still not settled, select board Chair Richard Bates said.

There was a public meeting to discuss the matter on Dec. 1. The thinking then was that the memo of understanding and an article to add an EMS department would be voted on Monday, May 8, and then the town meeting on Tuesday, May 9, would go forward with two possible budgets, one with the ambulance part of the town, and one with the town making a contribution to support the St. George Firefighters and Ambulance Association running the ambulance service, Bates said.

The town has been making contributions to the association since 2014.

The chair said recent discussions with town attorney Bill Kelly have changed his and the town manager’s thinking on the timing. He said a special town meeting may be held before the end of February and resolve the issue then.

“That way we will know how to prepare the budget,” Bates said.

“I believe the townspeople understand that to continue to provide the first class ambulance service for our community, bringing it into the Town is the best alternative,” he said.

The cost is expected to be about $500,000 to provide full coverage.

Route 131 dedication

The Select Board voted at the Jan. 9 meeting to voice support for legislation being sought by Knox County Sheriff Patrick Polky to dedicate two portions of Route 131 (River Road) in St. George in memory of Knox County Deputies Frank Ross Jr. and Frank Buzynski, who died in a cruiser crash on the evening of Sept. 4, 1959.

The crash occurred at about 11 p.m. when they were pursuing a motor vehicle driven by a man suspected of operating under the influence and domestic violence. The cruiser, driven by Buzynski, struck a tree in the area of 1016 River Road.

The deaths of the deputy sent shockwaves through the community. The Courier-Gazette reported that there was a huge turnout for the double funeral of the officers on the following Monday, Sept. 7 at the Thomaston Baptist Church. Buzynski was 43 and Ross was 30.

Then-Sheriff P. William Pease said “they were two of the finest peace officers I have ever known, and they were my close friends. I can’t believe they are gone.”

The proposal by Sheriff Polky calls for the two portions to be named after the deputies to start in the area of St. George Pottery, with one section going one mile north toward South Thomaston and the other section going one mile south toward Tenants Harbor, the town center.

“I have communicated with the surviving families of both deputies and they are in support of this and, if possible, would like to participate in a dedication ceremony on the remembrance day of their deaths this year. I have also talked with a handful of community members and all support this idea,” Sheriff Polky stated in his letter to the Selectboard.

Revaluation may be in town’s future

The board also discussed the possible need to undertake a revaluation of properties.

Chair Bates pointed out that from July 2020 to July 2021, sales of properties increased on average by 20 percent. The increases were not uniform, however, with inland properties seeing an increase of 27 percent on average with waterfront properties increasing 16 percent.

Municipalities are required to assess properties to make sure that taxes are shared fairly and evenly across town.

He said sooner or late a revaluation will be needed. However, he said, there may be an advantage to wait to see if sale prices come back down following the peak occurring during the pandemic.

If the town’s assessment on properties fall too much from what the market values are, the amount of the homestead and veteran exemptions will be reduced.

The Select Board also agreed to invite state Sen. Anne “Pinny” Beebe-Center and Rep. Ann Matlack to attend a select board’s meeting to discuss issues of concerns to the town such as affordable housing.