Jen Beal monitors information Thursday during her shift inside the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Center in Auburn. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — County taxes in Lewiston and Auburn help pay for the Androscoggin County emergency dispatch center, but the service is not offered to the Twin Cities residents.

In addition to subsidizing the county’s emergency communication center, Lewiston-Auburn residents pay for their own 911 center.

Under a proposal brought forward by Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson and Paul LeClair, the director of Lewiston-Auburn Emergency Communications System, the two facilities would merge under the county’s jurisdiction.

The plan, if accepted by the Androscoggin County Commission, would begin July 1, 2022.

Samson and LeClair presented the plan to the commission at a workshop Wednesday evening.

The transition should be seamless and would create no delays in requesting mutual aid between the counties and municipalities in the event of an emergency, Samson said.

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While the operations will merge, any debt will remain with the original agency.

The two communication centers in Auburn, one in the county courthouse on Turner Street and the other on Minot Avenue, would remain open, operating as a metro center and a county center until a facility can be built to house both under one roof.

“We both are in need of a new communication center,” LeClair said. “It’s better to build one center instead of two.”

Mark Cayer monitors information Thursday during his shift inside the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Emergency Communications Center in Auburn. Cayer is a 911 supervisor at the center. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The new organization, according to LeClair, would have 42 full-time employees working three shifts around the clock to provide public safety answering point and dispatch services to all of Androscoggin County.

Lisbon, which operates its own dispatch center, has been invited to join the new venture. Lisbon, as well as Lewiston and Auburn, would save money under the proposal.

Based on last year’s figures, the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Center handled three times as many calls as the Sheriff’s Office — 44,296 to 14,705 — but the Twin Cities make up 27% of the land area in the county.

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The combined services would become an Androscoggin County department and all staff members would become county employees.

Who would serve as director, deputy director and operations manager has not been determined.

The budget for the new entity would be a little more than $3.92 million. The current combined cost for dispatch for Lewiston-Auburn and the county is $3.86 million.

Mark Cayer monitors information Thursday during his shift inside the Lewiston-Auburn 911 Emergency Communications Center in Auburn. Cayer is a 911 supervisor at the center. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Rates charged to the municipalities will be determined by valuation. Number of calls per community varies widely from year to year to determine a fair apportionment of the county tax, LeClair said.

Without Lewiston and Auburn subsidizing the rest of the county for services it does not use, the other 11 municipalities in Androscoggin County would see their cost for dispatch services go up. Under the proposal presented to the commissioners, Auburn would see its cost for dispatch decrease by just under $440,000. Poland, however, would see the biggest jump, an increase of nearly $222,000.

The higher cost to the smaller communities concerned some of the commissioners.

Benefits of the combined agency include an enhanced system of responding to emergencies instead of passing off calls to another facility, more staff available to cover for vacations and illnesses, and a fairer, more accurate way to pay for emergency services.

A new center would need to be built because neither current facility is large enough to absorb the other agency. Samson did say the county does have room to take over emergency calls for Lisbon., if it chooses to join.


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