Auburn to ask Androscoggin County for bid to take over police, fire dispatch

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AUBURN — The city will push Androscoggin County officials to stand by their numbers and bid on providing 911 call-answering and dispatch services for Auburn police and fire departments.

“Now, we ask the county to provide a quote for dispatch services at the rate they charge other municipalities,” Police Chief Phil Crowell said.

Councilors directed City Manager Howard Kroll to get a quote from the county to answer all 911 calls from Auburn and dispatch all police, fire and emergency services.

According to the resolve, the fee the county charges its clients does not cover the full cost of dispatch services so Lewiston and Auburn pay more than their share.

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Lewiston and Auburn both fund their own 911 dispatch center to answer emergency calls and to dispatch fire, police and ambulance responses.

The cities also pay property taxes to Androscoggin County and part of those taxes go to support the county’s dispatch service. The county dispatches for the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department and other police and fire departments in the county.

Lewiston and Auburn officials have been looking for ways to balance those costs since 2012, including convincing rural communities to contract with them.

A bid to consolidate with L-A 911 was turned down, so the Twin Cities began pushing county commissioners to clarify the rates they charge to the Androscoggin County towns for dispatch services.

Crowell said city and county attorneys have negotiated back and forth for the past year, and the county provided some information.

“But the information we’ve received was not concise, and it did not give us the full picture of what we had hoped to see,” Crowell said.

He said he suspects the county’s police dispatch numbers were copied from another dispatch center.

“There is no real direct cost associated with their rates,” Crowell said. “With (Public Service Answering Points) services, they took the lowest rate that was being offered in the state and just adopted it. Again, there was no real correlation with direct costs. And the same was true with fire services.”

Crowell said he thinks consolidating emergency dispatch services across Androscoggin County is still the most efficient idea.

Lewiston is not expected to pass a similar resolve, Crowell said.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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