Moving dispatch service eyed

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LIVERMORE FALLS – Selectmen are again considering ending local emergency police dispatching services. Replacing local dispatch would be an outside agency such as Androscoggin Sheriff’s Department.

Selectmen considered transferring the service to the sheriff’s department last year, but after people voiced mixed feelings about the idea, they decided to hold a straw poll during elections last June.

Residents voted 164-90 in the nonbinding vote then to keep dispatch services with Livermore Falls Police Department instead of having the Androscoggin Sheriff’s Department do the dispatching.

Selectmen also decided there will be no budget committee to review the budget proposal and give a recommendation to voters, Town Manager Martin Puckett said Thursday.

Several community members had shown interest and signed up to be on the committee and there were others from past years still on the committee.

Puckett said there were about 11 people willing to serve on the committee.

Selectmen will continue to review the 2006-07 budget at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the town office.

Selectmen have not settled on an amount but it is at about $1.8 million with four other lines to review, Puckett said.

The preliminary proposed budget that included all department requests was $2.5 million.

Puckett said he and selectmen are looking at duplicate services and considering changes that would eliminate services being provided elsewhere.

Falling into those categories are dispatch services and the transfer and recycling station, Puckett said.

The proposed amount for dispatch is $193,000 including health insurance and other fringe benefits, he said. Without the fringe benefits, the dispatch operating budget is $145,000. Neither figure, Puckett said, includes liability insurance.

The town pays about $150,000 to Androscoggin County for services including the jail, courts, registry and dispatch services. Dispatchers there transfer 911 calls to Livermore Falls dispatchers who handled the emergency from there.

Selectmen are also considering eliminating the transfer station, and instead, having residents take their trash and recyclables to Jay, Puckett said.

The cost to operate the town’s station is $200,000 with an additional $15,000 for fringe benefits, Puckett said.

He and selectmen are looking at fiscal responsibility, Puckett said, and evaluating the services the town has and what can be provided elsewhere.

Selectmen will also look at capital improvement accounts and public works among other miscellaneous items in the budget, he said.

The town needs to come within the state’s tax cap for the budget. To do that, the budget would have to be about $2.1 million, he said.

Voters could also consider going above the cap if a special article was put on the warrant to raise the money from local funds and they approved it.

Right now, Puckett said, the town is spending more money on services and not putting enough aside for capital expenditures for the infrastructure.

“We’ve not been putting money aside for long-term projects,” he said.

“In a year-to-year budget, we’re strangled by having year-to-year costs and that’s been prohibitive to enable us to make long-term capital expenditures in our infrastructure” such as roads, public works equipment, police equipment.

There was $40,000 for capital improvements in 2004, and $80,000 in 2006, he said.

That’s not enough for a town this size, he added.


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