WATERBORO — Whether the question is decided with a referendum on June 14 or at the annual town meeting on June 18, Waterboro voters are poised to decide whether to hire a second, 40-hour-per-week contract deputy.

With a 2010 census population of 7,700, Waterboro is growing, and so is the need for more public safety, say some town officials, residents and the current contract deputy, Shawn Sanborn.

“It’s not Mayberry,” Sanborn told the town’s budget committee last week. And while he acknowledged it isn’t the case all the time, “sometimes, its the Wild West out there,” he said.

Waterboro is one of nine rural towns that receives primary police coverage from the York County Sheriff ’s Office. For the past 16 years, residents have opted to hire dedicated services above and beyond what the sheriff ’s office is able to provide through regular zone coverage. The contract deputy provides 40 hours a week of coverage.

The quest for a second deputy at a cost of about $100,000 comes as a recommendation from the town’s Public Safety Committee. Town Administrator Gary Lamb said he’s put the figure in his budget, which will go to selectmen for their recommendation.

Waterboro had 4,795 calls for service in 2015, according to York County Sheriff ’s Office Chief Deputy Tom Baran. Of that total, 2,144 were initiated by deputies, with the rest coming from residents.

Baran said that the time a deputy is the on scene of a complaint varies, but the average time is increasing. A burglary call usually takes about 48 minutes on scene, he said, not counting the follow-up investigation.

While noting the cost, Selectwoman TammyJo Girard said people want quality of life, and she supports adding a second contract deputy.

“It’s important we make sure residents feel comfortable their own homes,” she said.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Ted Doyle said Waterboro residents may have a false sense of security because so many area law enforcement officers live in town, and many have to pass through town to get to their jobs.

Sanborn said there are times he works when he’s not on duty, and told of a scenario two years ago when two people were fighting in the street where he lives. He called dispatch for a unit that ended up being 45 minutes away because of another call.

When he’s on duty and calls for back-up, the arrival time of a second unit can vary depending on where it is located. He said Maine State Police helps when they’re in the area, but they’re spread thin too.

“It’s like trying to butter a loaf of bread with a pat of butter,” Sanborn said of the coverage.

Residents for and against hiring a second deputy voiced their opinions to the budget committee last week.

“We’re desperately in need of another deputy, said Paul Carey, security officer at the Lake Arrowhead subdivision.

Resident Lucille Gagne told the budget committee she doesn’t favor the plan.

“I’m very happy; I don’t want my taxes going up,” said Gagne. “I’m happy the way I am.”

Resident Paul Tibbetts said the town already pays county taxes for rural patrol, and he didn’t favor hiring the first deputy, let alone a second.

Selectman Dwayne Woodsome said he believes the issue should go to referendum rather than the Town Meeting, which often sees a sparse turnout.

Lamb said selectmen may decide to put the matter to referendum for June 14, or the matter could be decided via a Town Meeting warrant. If that happens, the budget committee and selectmen’s recommendation will both appear on the Town Meeting warrant.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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