Councilors approve hiring of new city planner



ELLSWORTH — City councilors unanimously approved City Manager David Cole’s choice for city planner on Monday evening (with one councilor absent).

Jef Fitzgerald resigned his post as town assessor in Bucksport last week to take the job in Ellsworth. He has previously worked for the city as deputy planner.

“He’s got a strong background, a good technical background,” Cole said.

“I’m very pleased to have you back on board with the team,” said Councilor Gary Fortier.

Also on Monday, city officials approved a $16,957 bid from Industrial Protection Services to install a washer and dryer for cleaning turnout gear for the Fire Department. The cost of installation will be covered by a $20,000 grant, said Ellsworth Fire Department Chief Richard Tupper.

Capt. Bobby Dorr wrote the grant application, said Tupper, noting “Captain Dorr did a fabulous job.”

“This type of grant there’s always a lot of competition,” said Cole, “so they should be commended.”

“It is a proven fact that carcinogens and other toxic materials get absorbed into the personal protective gear that we wear while doing our job,” Tupper wrote in a memo to councilors.

“If not cleaned immediately following an incident, the gear off-gasses, contaminating us and everyone else again, long after the incident. It is no longer a sign of experience to have blackened and dirty gear. Conversely, it’s a sign of ignorance.”

The $16,957 bid was the lower of the two bids the city received, said Tupper. The other was $19,950, from Fire Tech and Safety.

“This leaves funding within that grant funding to be able to pay for funding necessary for drainage and electrical work hookup as well,” said Tupper, adding that the household washing machines the department had been using would be removed to make room for the new setup.

Councilors also approved bids for the purchase of several budgeted items, including two new 2020 police cruisers (a final cost after trade-in of $52,698), a software package upgrade for the Assessing Department ($22,500), a new work truck for the Water Department ($26,388) and carpet installation ($20,628) on the first and second floors of City Hall.

Also on Monday evening, Cole suggested that the city set up a working group to look at “opportunities” that have opened up in the world of solar panels in light of recently passed legislation.

“To me, the argument for the city to consider a solar project is very compelling,” Cole said. “The incentives have been significantly increased.”

“There are a number of communities considering it now,” Cole said.

Chairman Marc Blanchette said he would consult with staff and name a working group this week.

Also on Monday, a planned discussion of a contract with Northern Light Medical Transport was tabled until a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 26, at 5:30 p.m.

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