Chester offers fire, ambulance, and dispatch contract to Andover

CHESTER, Vt. – The Chester Selectboard, after emerging from an executive session, agreed to send a letter of intent to the town of Andover to provide a contract for fire, ambulance, and dispatch services totaling $55,754.67 for calendar year 2022.

The services contract amount will be based on a fluctuation formula depending on EMS expenses and number of calls as well as other factors. This year, however, the board had earlier floated out the $55,000 in error, having calculated the formula incorrectly, something that was pointed out by the Andover Selectboard.

Chester’s board agreed to stick to this lower number for the first year. If calculated correctly, the amount would have been $67,138.78, a difference of over $11,000.

Once a response is received from Andover, Chester will prepare a formal contract with all the details, including how to reflect the correct formulaic pricing into future contracts.

Board Chair Arne Jonynas said they were heading in the right direction with Andover as far as fire and ambulance services go, and in their relationship with Andover in general.

The town of Andover had previously paid $36,000, a number that hadn’t risen in years. Recent discussions over the need for Chester to raise that number led to open conflict between the two Selectboards, resulting in Chester’s board refusing to even offer Andover a contract for services, a decision they announced in their Oct. 6 meeting.

Since then, issues on both sides have subsided, and negotiations were reestablished a week later.

Chester’s Town Manager Julie Hance is continuing to gather more information about ARPA fund usage, exploring a possible “revenue shortfall” category that had recently come to light during a town managers conference she attended. The amount allowable for that category is based on an intricate formula developed by Congress. Hance will be working with local consultants to make sure she’s using the right numbers to determine what portion of Chester’s $900,000-plus ARPA funds might be allocated in this way.

Hance is also looking to schedule a community forum either in December or early January to start looking at what projects fit into various other categories. Chester has already received half of that money and is allowed to invest those funds with any gains being free to use without restrictions. Hance is looking into investment options as well.

A new Chester property owner in town has donated two green benches to be placed in front of the information booth on the green and has offered to fund trees and plantings as well. Scott Wunderle is working with the owner to develop a more comprehensive plan for the green and the space in front of the Academy Building. He will also work with Chester Townscapes and bring back options to the board in the spring.

The new owner of the Governor’s Inn in Ludlow has donated 40 conference speakers to four local towns including Chester. Hance has received several for Chester schools, one for the library, and four for town offices.

The next Chester Selectboard meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. in the Chester Town Hall.

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