Little traction gained as MACC Base negotiations move ahead

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/15/2019 12:16:43 PM
Modified: 8/15/2019 12:16:33 PM

Member votes are likely to be a main negotiating issue as Wilton, Milford and Mont Vernon continue to hash out the continuation of the dispatch system they jointly own.

Stakeholders in the Milford Area Communication Center expressed frustration with a work session held Monday in Milford, saying the process is being hampered by Milford’s continuing exploration of other options for a communications center.

Last year, the Milford Select Board did not sign a ten-year contract extension that had already been signed by its MACC Base partners Wilton and Mont Vernon – eventually, the three towns agreed to a two-year extension – and began eliciting estimates for establishing its own communications system. 

Until Milford has firmly decided on whether to go alone or continue its MACC Base partnership, negotiations are difficult, Wilton Selectwoman Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said Wednesday.

“I think we’re still at a stalemate,” Boissonnault said.  “Until Milford decides how they’re moving forward, it puts the rest of us at a disadvantage. The meeting we had was non-productive.”

During Monday’s meeting, members of the Milford board revisited a proposal from the most recent contract negotiations – for Milford to have a controlling vote on most non-monetary decisions, Wilton Town Administrator Paul Branscombe said Tuesday.

Currently, on all matters, Wilton and Mont Vernon each have a single vote on the MACC Base Board of Directors, while Milford has two. Milford proposed having an additional vote.

Milford has also proposed a major systems upgrade to resolve long-standing issues, which could cost up to $3 million, which would require all three towns to approve warrant articles in the coming year to pass. 

“Budgets and voting were the major issues,” Branscombe said. “That’s what we’re going to have to talk about.”

The three towns have been struggling to come to terms with updating the communications center equipment for several years, and Communications Director Jason Johnson said Wednesday the issues have had an impact on the department as the uncertain future has led to staffing losses and delays of needed infrastructure upgrades.

Johnson said on several occasions since 2015, Milford has rejected increasing the budget to pay for infrastructure improvements, and because of its 50 percent vote, those improvements have been stymied. Johnson also said Milford’s refusal to sign long-term contract extensions and discussions of leaving the system have cause three full-time employees leave the center in the last two years due to the desire for a position with more stability. The fear, he said, is if Milford withdraws, the center won’t be able to continue operating without its largest stakeholder.

“We need to get all three towns on the same page,” Johnson said. “It makes it incredibly difficult to retain and attract quality people if you have instability.”

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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