Chester board votes to offer emergency services to Andover If accepted, $55,755 annual fee would be $22,000 above 2021 contract

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

On Wednesday night, the Chester Select Board voted to offer fire and ambulance coverage to the Town of Andover for 2022 at the cost of $55,754.67. That represents a 69 percent increase over the $33,000 that Chester charged Andover for fire, ambulance and dispatch in 2021.

Chester board chair Arne Jonynas explains the board’s decision. Images courtesy of SAPA-TV

The cost was arrived at using a formula that combines the number of properties covered and the number of calls from the previous year, but due to a calculation error the cost should have been $67,138.78.

Board chair Arne Jonynas said that an Andover Select Board member had noticed the error but since $55,754.67 was the amount quoted in the Chester board’s Oct. 6 statement regarding providing the service, Chester would stand behind the lower number. Going forward, the cost is expected to change each year – rising or falling – based on the number of calls.

The Andover Select Board has an update on emergency services on its agenda for Oct. 25.

Chester board reverses decision to not offer contract

The offer is a reversal of the Chester board’s statement from Oct. 6 that it was not interested in providing the service. The board based its position on remarks by Andover residents and Andover Select board members that they said made them believe that Chester could not provide a service that Andover would find acceptable and affordable.

For decades, Chester has provided fire service to Andover including stretches when the Chester Select Board had not increased the fee charged to Andover to keep up with expenses. It then attempted to catch up with large increases that have vexed Andover’s board. In fact, Chester has not increased the $6,000 fee for providing ambulance or the $3,000 for dispatching in more than 12 years.

Then on Oct. 11, Andover Board chair Chris Plumb told a well-attended board meeting that he would be sitting down to negotiate with Chester Town Manager Julie Hance. For much of the rest of the meeting, residents expressed their feelings about the situation. And while many said the town should pay what’s fair for the service, others were upset that Andover does not get to vote on Chester’s public safety budget.

The new contract will be worked out between the boards and, if passed, will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Emergency services from Chester are billed on a calendar year while Andover’s fiscal year is July 1 to June 30.

Related Links:

Oct. 13, 2021: Negotiations with Chester to begin to begin as Andover residents weigh in on fire, ambulance

Oct. 6, 2021: Chester emergency departments explain costs, training, services in Andover

Sept.  15, 2021: Andover Board, residents complain about Chester emergency service, cost: Negotiations, creating a fire department among strategies

Sept. 8, 2021: Chester board mulls cost of fire, ambulance coverage for Andover

Jan. 13, 2016: Andover OKs Chester service MOU, finalizing full budget, then takes up a party issue

May 26, 2015: VTel responds to Big Pole controversy in Chester; Andover-Chester MOUs still in play

May 12, 2015: Chester Select Board revisits Andover MOU; ice cream truck permit will have to wait

April 14, 2015: Andover to send revised MOU to Chester for emergency services

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