Amherst holding special council meeting to consider fire protection services
AMHERST - A long-standing sore point between Cumberland County's two largest municipalities may be resolved today.
Amherst town council has scheduled a special meeting at 11 a.m. to discuss the provision of fire protection services for the Municipality of Cumberland.
"We're having a special meeting to talk about fire protection services and that's all I can tell you at this moment," Amherst's town manager Greg Herrett said Wednesday.
Cumberland County has been engaged in a funding dispute with the county's four towns over fire protection since last fall when Amherst then the other three towns threatened to withdraw fire protection from the county as of July 1 unless the county agreed to increase its funding.
After the towns made their threat, the county began preparing to establish its own rural fire departments in the affected areas
Cumberland County Warden Keith Hunter was also tight-lipped Wednesday, about Amherst's meeting and the potential for an agreement, but confirmed a press conference has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at the Amherst Fire Department.
The Daily News has learned from a source close to the talks that the proposed agreement is a long-term deal that offers Amherst a small funding increase over what it is currently receiving.
Last year, the county paid Amherst around $144,000 for fire services and requested an increase to $280,000. The county responded with an offer of $55,000 - the same level it funds its rural departments - and then said it was breaking off negotiations.
There have been talks since then, with both sides moving slightly from their positions, but it didn't appear as though a deal was imminent. It's unknown what happened to break the impasse.