If you think Congress is gridlocked, consider the years spent trying to put local emergency dispatch services here under a single roof.
If you haven’t been following this endless debate — and we couldn’t fault you if you have not — here are the basics:
Androscoggin County has three dispatch services. County government runs one, Lisbon runs another, while Lewiston-Auburn runs the third and largest center.
And all parties either resent having to pay what they currently pay or fear having to pay more.
Lewiston and Auburn currently help pay for a large part of the county dispatch system, even though they also are paying for their own system.
That doesn’t seem fair until you consider Lewiston-Auburn residents account for the overwhelming majority of the people in the county jail. The smaller towns argue they are paying a disproportionate share for L-A’s hoodlums.
As you can see, there is no precise way to break out and allocate county services to everyone’s satisfaction.
This argument can go on forever and it already has. A variety of boards have been assembled over the years to create the ultimate solution, a unified dispatch service under one roof.
After a decade of talking, it has become obvious that there is no clear-cut solution to this problem.
Lewiston and Auburn are now poised to pull out of the talks and simply stop paying for the county dispatch services they do not need or want.
The county then will likely go to court seeking to force the cities to make payments.
At that point, a judge can take a close look at the law and make a decision on whether the cities can simply walk away.
There is precedent for this. Bangor once tried to pull out of the Penobscot County system, but a judge ruled against the city.
The facts in this case are slightly different, so nobody really knows how a judge might decide.
Androscoggin County’s dispatch system is old and inadequate. Lisbon’s system is likely too small.
If Lewiston and Auburn can withdraw, the county and small towns will be left to join Lisbon, pay more to update the county’s system or join L-A’s system.
They also might decide to do none of the above and take their business to another agency in a different county.
That would be unfortunate, since we are convinced that adding one more link to the emergency-response chain will increase response time and open the door to other communications problems.
The best and most efficient solution remains centralizing all services in one locally operated call center. It is a shame we just can’t seem to get there from here.
But we’re all tired of reading and talking about this issue. Let’s move on.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.