Lewiston group eyes dispatching options

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LEWISTON – If there’s a way for Androscoggin County cities and towns to save money on emergency dispatching, Jim Bennett said a new committee will find it.

“Basically, the state has identified $400,000 spent annually in Androscoggin County on dispatch services,” said Bennett, Lewiston’s city administrator. “Now, we’ll try to devise a system to get that money back into the citizens’ hands so they can do something else with it.”

Bennett and Minot fire Chief Steve French are leading a group of fire, police and municipal government officials to find a way to combine dispatch services in Androscoggin County.

The group meets at 7 p.m. Thursday in Lewiston City Hall.

It continues last year’s efforts to combine 911 call answering centers. Androscoggin County has two centers – Lewiston-Auburn and the Sheriff’s Department.

The state began reducing call centers statewide in 2004, requiring areas to combine 911 services.

There are still several agencies that dispatch emergency services, however.

“What we need to do is figure out if we can get one dispatch center for everything,” Bennett said. “If we can, how will it be governed, where will it be and how will it be funded?”

Funding will be a difficult question, he said.

“Savings for this don’t always come equally for every community,” Bennett said. “Some communities may save a lot, while others save very little. That’s what we have to work through.”

Bennett said he expects the committee will issue a report on dispatch services in September.

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