LIVERMORE FALLS — The Androscoggin County Commission voted Wednesday to adopt a resolution to create a committee to study short-term dispatching needs for Livermore Falls, Commissioner Jonathan LaBonte said Thursday.

It is an effort to be ready if Livermore Falls voters decide on Tuesday, Sept. 8, that they want to close that town’s police emergency dispatch within 90 days.

The special town meeting will follow a public hearing that will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Livermore Falls High School gymnasium.

Livermore Falls taxpayers face a tax rate increase of $4 per $1,000 of property valuation if spending is not reduced. If the dispatch center is closed, there will be no savings this year but there is expected to be some next year. There are other options on the warrant residents will be asked to consider.

Voters raised $196,688 for dispatch this year, which includes wages and insurances for four full-time dispatchers and wages for seven part-time dispatchers, if needed. There would be at least $60,000 left over in the budget that could be used to buy technology to help set up for Androscoggin County to take over dispatching, Livermore Falls Town Manager Jim Chaousis said.

Livermore Falls Police Chief Ernest Steward Jr. said he hopes that voters make their decision once and for all so that his dispatchers can get their lives settled.

This has been going on for seven years, Steward said, referring to discussions to close dispatch. In 2006, voters rejected it.

“If they really need to save money, and need dispatch to go, then we need to move forward,” he said.

Local dispatchers direct emergency responders on where to go and how to get there, Steward said. They also receive traffic from those responders, do behind-the-scenes calls and check to make sure everything is going OK, he said.

As long as there is an adequate system in place and they can take care of responders, he has no problem with dispatch being some place else, Steward said.

The thing that bothers him, he said, is there are signs around town about saving the dump but there are no signs about saving dispatch.

These people have feelings, Steward said, and they do their best to provide a good service to residents.

County commissioners and Sheriff Guy Desjardins and local officials will be at the town meeting Tuesday to answer residents’ questions.

If Livermore Falls voters do choose to close the center, the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Communication Center is not equipped at this time to handle communicating with emergency responders in Livermore and Livermore Falls, Desjardins said Thursday.

“It’s not a flip of a switch option,” he said. There are technological and personnel issues to deal with, he said.

“I don’t see it as insurmountable,” he said, but it will take time and money to get everything set up.

Androscoggin County’s dispatchers do answer 911 emergency calls and transfer them to the Livermore Falls Dispatch Center to be taken care of at this time. The latter center dispatches for fire departments in Livermore and Livermore Falls, Livermore Falls police and ambulance services for Livermore, Livermore Falls and Jay.

LaBonte said if voters close the center, the new committee will deal with the immediate short-term need for dispatching considering three options. Those options are to use either the Livermore Falls Communication Center, the current Androscoggin County Communication Center or the town of Lisbon Communication Center. Committee members will comprise a member from the Sheriff’s Department, town of Livermore Falls, town of Lisbon, County Fire Chiefs’ Association and the three commissioners.

They could have county dispatchers man the Livermore Falls dispatch center, Desjardins said, or upgrade equipment at the Androscoggin County center to handle northern county calls or perhaps partner with the Lisbon station to handle those calls.

Livermore Falls currently pays $163,850 for its share of Androscoggin County taxes, Chaousis said. Those services include registry of deeds, probate and jail among others.

Chaousis estimated that it would cost an additional $27 per hour for the county to dispatch fire/rescue calls and estimated that would be about $2,349 more each year.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.