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TOPSHAM — Spurred by a resident’s request, the Board of Selectmen is exploring changing its name to the more generic Select Board, Town Manager Rich Roedner said last week.
The panel took no vote on the matter Feb. 7, but directed Roedner to draft policy language for a change. The board that night also approved an increase in the town’s emergency medical services billing rates.
The Board of Selectmen currently has two women and three men.
Raija Suomela of Middlesex Road asked town officials to consider the renaming in a Jan. 10 email.
Such a change could be made two ways, Roedner told the board in a memo three weeks later: either by creating a policy that the panel will be called the Select Board, and each member a select person, or by amending the Town Code to eliminate references to Board of Selectmen or selectmen.
“There would be additional time and cost with this approach,” Roedner said of the latter option, “both in reviewing the code, drafting amendments, and preparing for Town Meeting votes. Lastly, there would be a cost to codify those changes.”
Roedner on Feb. 8 had no estimate for how much codification could cost. The fee charged the town is based on factors such as number of characters and pages, he said, noting that in “a normal year, when we have a ‘standard’ number of zoning changes, we spend $3,000 to $5,000 probably.”
Roedner said he proposing that while the panel refers to itself as the Select Board, “I’m suggesting to individual members, they get to call themselves whatever they want: ‘I’m a selectman,’ ‘I’m a selectwoman,’ ‘I’m a selectperson.’ … I’m going to work on a policy that gives them that flexibility.”
“How I refer to them, it may just be the generic ‘selectperson,’ or even ‘member of the board,'” he added.
Roedner could bring his proposed policy language to the board next month for consideration. While a code change would have to be approved by Town Meeting, a policy can be decided by the board, he said.
Selectmen also voted 4-1, with Marie Brillant opposed, to increase ambulance billing rates. Fire Chief Chris McLaughlin recommended the changes to keep fees on par with other towns.
“We have fallen behind,” he said in a Jan. 23 memo to the board. “We have the lowest billing rates out of all of services that our billing company represents,” which includes Buckfield, Gardiner, Lisbon, Ogunquit, Wells and York.
The increases bring Topsham up to the average, and could conservatively bring an annual revenue increase of $30,000, the chief said.
“Most of the community would never notice this change,” he added, since 70 percent of the town’s transports are “Medicare and Mainecare patients, which would be unaffected.”
Shawn McPherson of Topsham’s billing company, Maine Reimbursement Services, reported to McLaughlin Jan. 17 that Topsham has charged $12 per mile when a patient is in the ambulance; McLaughlin recommended $18.
Those recommendations, which the board approved as its new rate schedule, include a basic life support increase from nearly $355 to $700; advanced life support from about $421 to $1,000; and advanced life support 2 from nearly $610 to $1,400.