Dispatch co-op looks to the future

  • Lyndeborough Selectmen Lee Mayhew and Mark Schultz with Town Administrator Russ Boland at Milford Town Hall for discussion of MACC Base. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Lyndeborough Selectmen Lee Mayhew and Mark Schultz with Town Administrator Russ Boland at Milford Town Hall for discussion of MACC Base. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Wilton Town Administrator Scott Butcher with Selectmen Kermit Williams and Steven McDonough (William Condra seated outside the frame) at Milford Town Hall for discussion of MACC Base. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Milford Police Chief Mike Viola at Town Hall for discussion of MACC Base with representatives from Lyndeborough, Wilton and Mont Vernon. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

  • Wilton Town Administrator Scott Butcher and Selectboard Chairman Kermit Williams at Milford Town Hall for discussion of MACC Base. (Brandon Latham / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Brandon Latham—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript...

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/24/2017 10:55:18 AM

Selectmen from Lyndeborough, Wilton, Milford and Mont Vernon met for a cooperative work session Wednesday, Jan. 18, in an effort to open a conversation about the future of their regional dispatch, MACC Base.

The Milford Area Communications Center is based in Milford and provides police and emergency communications for the four towns. Lately, financial conflicts and issues with the bylaws have been obstacles to intermunicipal cooperation.

“I hope everyone does have an open mind and tries to work together, and that we’re here,” Lyndeborough Selectman and retired Mont Vernon police officer Mark Schultz said in the meeting. “But primarily I am concerned about Milford trying to run the show.”

Milford Selectman Kevin Federico works with MACC Base regularly, and is a former emergency responder. He said that the center needs technical upgrading, possibly including a rewired dispatch center. He said much of the equipment is original to the outfit’s founding over 30 years ago.

One option is to upgrade the system to microwave technology. This would prevent towns from needing to purchase radio repeaters to cover deadspots, something Mont Vernon already bought and Milford says it needs badly.

There has also been talk of new radio towers, possibly on Lyndeborough’s Mountain Road and at Mont Vernon’s fire department, to improve coverage.

“Our number one issue is our public safety, and our public safety officers’ safety, and our current technology is not cutting it for that,” Federico said. “It’s a very taboo subject because no one wants it to change, everyone wants it to stay the same, and I don’t want it to change either because it’s a great organization.”

He said the Milford selectmen have no specific goals for MACC Base other than improving intermunicipal dialogue, and do not plan on leaving the regional agreement, as was rumored.

Still, funding would be the problem. The existing intermunicipal agreement prevents MACC Base, according to Milford town attorney Bill Drescher, from having its own capital reserve fund or agreeing to multiyear contracts.

Lyndeborough Selectboard Chair Lee Mayhew said this is because the original document was written so MACC Base could not indebt its member towns.

“The towns agreed in the municipal agreement to not have debt in there, so at the end of the year you can’t borrow anymore,” he said.

The possible solutions to this are that each town set up its own fund and MACC Base can spend once they are all ready, that a single town set up its own and other towns contribute, or that they rewrite the agreement. The final is the most likely. Wilton Selectboard Chair Kermit Williams would like to see it written like Wilton and Milford’s regional sewer system. Statutorily his type of organization would be able to have its own capital reserve fund.

Seventy-one percent of the budget comes from Milford, but the other towns complained that Milford has so many calls that it accounts for almost all of its use.

“I think we’re all willing to move forward with a partnership, but I think we need to go to an equal partnership,” Mayhew said. “I think if we’re going to have any kind of capital investment, it’s something for all towns here to be a part of, not just being customers and you [Milford] handing us the bill.”

Right now, MACC Base is overseen by a board of governors on which Wilton and Mont Vernon have one vote, Milford has two, and Lyndeborough has none because it is a customer, not a member. The four boards of selectmen are forming a separate committee with two members per town to move forward on issues debated at the meeting. The MACC Base director will remain involved in decision-making.

“I think everyone appreciates working in a cooperative manner,” Federico said. “And it’s our intention to continue that.”




Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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