Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Explanation of the Dispatch vote

Gary Foster, Gray Town Council Chair, explaining the Dispatch vote history today, on the blog As Maine Goes :

Gary Foster: "The Council spent several months reviewing options to reduce costs of our dispatch services. In July our Public Safety Committee requested that they give a presentation to Council on behalf of Gray Dispatch in August, to which the Council agreed."

"In August, due in part to the passing of the Fire Chief, they requested another 60 day to prepare the presentation, to which the Council agreed, including it on an October agenda."

"In October, after having had several public discussions throughout the summer and into fall, that included participants from Cumberland County Regional Communications Center, Gray Public Safety Committee and dispatch personnel, State Police, representatives from Gorham, New Gloucester, and Baldwin, the Public Safety Committee asked for another 60 days to prepare a presentation. With budget preparations beginning in December, the Council decided against any further delays at their October 17 meeting, and chose the most feasible option based on quality of service, technology, and cost, which is CCRCC."

"Two dispatch personnel subsequently resigned, having accepted other job offers, and then a group took out a people’s veto petition to overturn Council’s decision. Similar to a people’s veto at the state level, if the required number of valid signatures is submitted, the Order to enter into an agreement with CCRCC is immediately suspended until voters decide the issue at the next municipal election, which is June of next year."

"Subsequently, with insufficient personnel to staff our dispatch, not until the January 15 effective date of the Order, but now until the June election, the Council and Town Manager scrambled to ensure uninterrupted dispatch service until June. County is the only option that is equipped and prepared to immediately take on dispatch for Gray in the interim, and the Town Attorney opined that in such an emergency, Council is authorized to enter into a temporary agreement with the County."

"Of the three remaining dispatch personnel, one remains doing clerical work for public safety, which was part of the duties of dispatch, another is working as an office assistant in the Municipal office, and the third was let go, receiving all due compensation."

"If the initiative to overturn the Order fails, and Gray enters into a contract with CCRCC, one of our dispatchers is guaranteed employment with County Dispatch and all who so choose will be placed on a preferential hiring list. As part of the Order, we are assembling a transition team to work out details and issues. It would seem that the genuine concern for public safety expressed by our dispatch personnel during the many discussions isn’t as sincere as was presented, and misplaced priorities have disrupted what was planned to be a smooth transition period, to be completed by January 15." end Mr Foster's remarks...

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