Colchester is asking the town of Essex for an “ongoing annual contribution” of $10,000 to help cover Colchester Technical Rescue’s needs.
Town manager Aaron Frank said Colchester Tech Rescue currently has $40,000 in unfunded needs, including boat and gear replacement and management time.
“Right now, technical rescue is entirely volunteered, and we have a very generous person in Mike Cannon who volunteers to run it,” Frank explained. “But it’s really something that could use some ongoing staff time and support.”
He added that although most of the agency’s near-$1 million in total assets—including vehicles, dive gear, buildings and other equipment—was purchased with state and federal grants, the town is responsible for repairing and replacing the gear.
“Some of the stuff can really add up,” he said.
In a memo to Essex unified manager Evan Teich, Frank outlined the amount of calls to which the “highly specialized rescue service” has responded: In the last five years, CTR has responded to 164 calls in 26 towns, not including airports. Eighty-eight times those calls came from Colchester, and of the 76 other calls, 11 came from Essex. This accounts for 15 percent of calls outside Colchester, Frank explained.
Tech rescue responds to more calls in Burlington and Underhill, but Frank thought it was fair to approach Essex since Colchester contributes to an Essex-based regional service, the Essex Community Justice Center.
“It seemed like an opportunity to have a discussion or exchange of ideas about how do we equitably share these things that we provide for each other?” Frank said.
Teich said Essex will discuss the request during the town’s budget process, which has just started. If the town does agree to the contribution, he said it would most likely come out of the town’s fire department budget.
Teich said CTR has been beneficial to Essex in helping them find lost hikers using their technical expertise.
“It keeps us from having to duplicate the effort,” he said.
Frank said if Essex does not agree to the contribution, the town will have to continue to put off repairing and replacing equipment and compensating management time.
“We’ll be faced with harder choices about what needs to be repaired and replaced,” he said. “Receiving the $10,000 really better positions us to replace things in an orderly fashion.”