HALLOWELL — At least one well-connected Hallowell resident disagreed with the decision by the City Council to save the Hallowell Fire Department and lease space in a yet-to-be-built fire station in Farmingdale.

Stephen Langsdorf, the attorney for the city of Augusta, said at Tuesday’s council meeting that he has serious concerns about not only the decision itself but also the speed with which the council made it.

“I couldn’t understand it at all and found it to be very, very confusing,” Langsdorf said by phone Wednesday morning.

The council voted unanimously late last month, after a 13-month review by the city’s fire services committee, to keep the city’s more than 200-year-old department. Langsdorf said he and “many other people were shocked the decision was made so quickly during one council meeting.”

Langsdorf said during the meeting that the city of Augusta has concerns about continuing to be the primary fire service for Hallowell without being compensated. The two communities have a mutual aid agreement, but Augusta officials’ concerns centered on a “lack of mutuality.”

Langsdorf said he would have the same opinion if he wasn’t Augusta’s attorney, but because of his position, he was privy to discussion he thought Hallowell councilors needed to know. Augusta City Manager William Bridgeo said Langsdorf wasn’t speaking on behalf of the city of Augusta.

Bridgeo said he recently reviewed the 16-page report from Hallowell’s fire services committee, in which three of the five members recommended contracting for fire services with Augusta. He said Augusta is far from pulling its mutual aid agreement with Hallowell, but he does think it’s appropriate to review it.

“If it turns out that it’s standard practice for the mutual aid entity (Augusta) to be the first on scene and to be providing the bulk of the resources every time, then I think there’s a fair question to be asked,” Bridgeo said. “The taxpayers of that community can ask whether it’s putting more a financial burden on them than you’d typically find in a mutual aid agreement.”

Langsdorf, though, thinks many people in Hallowell have taken for granted that Augusta will be a first responder.

“The Augusta Fire Department has professional firefighters with up-to-date equipment and training and are investing $6 million in their main station that the Augusta taxpayers pay for,” Langsdorf said. “Augusta is doing something for Hallowell, which in turn is supposed to be providing assistance to Augusta.”

The agreement to lease space in Farmingdale hasn’t been signed and is contingent on Farmingdale voters approving construction of the new fire station. Langsdorf said the council should reconsider its decision against contracting with Augusta.

“An issue this important should really be put on hold until we know all the ramifications of it, and it would be a really good decision to be made by the people,” said Langsdorf, who said he may petition the council if it doesn’t reconsider.

Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker said the council didn’t rush to make its decision.

“I warned the council they weren’t going to please everybody, and I think they accepted that,” Walker said. “I disagree with Steve, because this was a rational, well-reasoned decision that just wasn’t going to please everybody.”

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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