LISBON – Selectmen voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a letter to the Public Utilities Commission objecting to cutting the number of statewide 911 call centers.

The Legislature mandated last year that the PUC reduce the number of so-called public safety answering points from 48 to between 16 and 24 by October 2005. Androscoggin County has three: the Lisbon Police Department, the Lewiston-Auburn Consolidated Communications Center in Auburn and the Androscoggin County sheriff’s office in Auburn.

“We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the inquiry into the reduction of public safety answering points,” the board wrote, but said called the process “entirely budget driven and wrong.”

It contends that public safety may be jeopardized in a “mad rush to solve a budget crisis, which you will have again in a couple years and have to order further reductions.”

Selectmen also pointed out that they see nothing in the report by Robert Kimball Engineers indicating a “current quality of service problem.”

“We believe it would be better to increase revenues in the short term by increasing the 50-cent telephone surcharge to 75 cents,” they wrote.

Police Chief David Brooks said he expects that all Lisbon 911 calls will go to a single center in the county and be relayed back to the town dispatch center.

He said the change would not affect the number of employees at the center, only add a few seconds to each 911 call.

There will be a meeting in early August for local police and fire departments, and town officials to learn more about the process.

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