Public Safety Concerns in St. Johnsbury

ST J TOWN TMDST. JOHNSBURY— Public safety was among the bigger issues for the town of St. Johnsbury for Town Meeting Day in 2018. The voters of the town faced a non-binding decision on whether funding for CALEX Ambulance would be removed as an appropriation going forward and made into a contracted item with the town.

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 "There is no plan if our appropriations get voted down. What would the town do, and how would it be provided," asked Michael Wright, CEO of CALEX.

"If the article passes we will be able to begin negotiations with an emergency services provider," said Kevin Oddy, a Selectboard Member for the town of St. Johnsbury. "Chances are that would be CALEX because they are the closest ones in the area. But it is not necessarily going to be them."

Another issue brought forth by one resident during the town's informational session was the fact that the fire department and CALEX ambulance both respond to medical calls inside the special service district of St. Johnsbury, however there are no plans to change this process.

"I think with the fire department we run wonderful tiered response system," said Wright. "And if we start looking into if the fire department can run an ambulance or if we continue it the way we are going we have to realize the fire department doesn't have paramedics."

"Our firefighters don't need to be restaff if we are responding in the village limits," said Chad Whitehead, Town Manager of St. Johnsbury. "We can support our EMT calls, we can be there on scene and then we can go from that scene to a fire call if that is what is needed."

The voters still had the option this year, to vote for CALEX's budget as an appropriation.

If the article passes and the select board decides to move forward with the option, it would not take place until next year.

As well as the public safety concern, the town still needed to vote on the proposed budget.

This year's budget was just over $3 million dollars. According to Whitehead, the budget increased due to general increases across the town.

St. Johnsbury Town Meeting from NewsLINC on Vimeo.

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