Maine Airport Mulling New Rules for Taxicab Businesses

Mar. 9--BANGOR -- Taxicab drivers who do business at Bangor International Airport may be required to comply with new rules.

The proposed rules, which address such areas as conduct, traffic and movement considerations, vehicle conditions operational requirements and dress standards, were presented during a Tuesday meeting of the city's taxicab regulation committee.

Developed by BIA staff, the rules were developed in response to past problems involving service, complaints and illegal substances, Assistant Airport Director Tony Caruso said during a meeting in the airport's pilots lounge.

As Caruso sees it, taxi drivers and their cabs are part of the city's effort to put its best foot forward when it comes to welcoming visitors.

"It's their first impression of Bangor," Caruso said. "We want it to be a pleasant one."

To that end, Caruso and other airport staff researched rules for taxi drivers based at other airports, including those in Portland and Manchester, N.H.

Under the rules airport officials are contemplating, cab companies that want to do business at BIA would need to purchase a decal and access permit from the city.

Among other things, cabs based at BIA would have to be insured, inspected and clean inside and out. Drivers would need to be courteous, clean and sober.

Access to the airport could be suspended or revoked for such violations as refusing a fare without just cause, overcharging fares, use of foul language and operating without a permit.

Proposed penalties for violating the rules could be: a warning and suspension of up to seven days for the first offense; a 90-day suspension for the second offense; a revocation of the company's access permit. Violations involving criminal conduct or any threatened harm to a person would lead to permanent suspension of work privileges at BIA, according to the draft policy distributed to committee members this week.

The draft rules will be discussed in more detail during the taxicab panel's next meeting, which likely will be held next month.

In the meantime, the rules will be circulated among members of the city's taxi industry.

Sangerville municipal budget up for review



SANGERVILLE -- A proposed 2006-2007 municipal budget that reflects an increase in appropriations of $35,428 over this year's spending plan will be presented to voters at the annual town meeting.

Included in the budget is $2,800 for the installation and first year's maintenance of a flashing traffic beacon at the four-way intersection in the village. The total cost of the installation is $8,000, of which the Department of Transportation will pay 75 percent. Some residents petitioned town officials to have a four-way stop at the intersection but state officials support a flashing beacon instead.

The town meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 25, in the fire station. A noon luncheon will be offered by the Sangerville Historical Society.

"In most of the municipal areas, we've held pretty tight," Sangerville Town Manager Dick Drummond said Monday, of the proposed budget.

Voters will need to ratify an overdraft of about $55,000 attributed mostly to road maintenance, public works and the garage operation. With those overdrafts in mind, selectmen and the budget committee have recommended using $200,000 from surplus to reduce the tax commitment, rather than the traditional $250,000.

The budget also includes performance-based increases in pay for town employees that average about 4 percent, according to Drummond.

Drummond said residents will be asked to borrow $90,000 over a two-year period to improve the remainder of the Silvers Mills Road. They also will be asked to raise $45,000, which either will be spent on capital improvements or held for the first year's loan payment in 2007.

A request to spend $16,000 at the former Abbie Fowler Elementary School for a restroom that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act also will need voter action. Local businesses rent space in the school, a source of about $20,000 in revenue for the town.

Axes, infrared sensor stop Lincoln blaze



LINCOLN -- Firefighters used axes and an infrared sensor Wednesday to keep a fire that began, possibly with a spark thrown from an exterior chimney pipe, from spreading inside a house on South Road about a mile from Lee.

No one was injured and the house was slightly damaged, firefighters said.

The incident began at about 7:05 p.m., when residents at 355 South Road noticed heavy smoke outside the house. When firefighters arrived, they saw fire was burning black plastic sheeting that had been skirted around the entire foundation, Deputy Chief Hervey Clay said.

It appeared that sparks from the elbow joint of the stovepipe had fallen onto the sheeting and ignited it, in turn burning several small spots in the house's wood siding, Clay said.

"The house would really have caught if we didn't put it out," Clay said. "Plus it was a very difficult fire to get at in the woods there."

Firefighters used the sensor to detect hot spots in the siding, then cut the spots away with axes and doused them, Clay said.

Two Lincoln fire engines and a tanker -- about 22 firefighters in all -- handled the fire, which was reported under control at 7:40 p.m., firefighters said. The Lee Fire Department also responded to a mutual-aid call.

The fire was the second in two days that firefighters fought successfully. A family was left homeless and three pets died Tuesday in a fire that gutted most of the interior of a trailer and attachment at 29 Highland Ave., firefighters said.

That fire might have started with a malfunctioning coffee machine, firefighters said. A state fire marshal is investigating.