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Wilton dispatch partnership on shaky ground



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, November 30, 2018 11:11AM

Wilton is discussing options for its dispatching services.

Wilton currently is a partner in the Milford Area Communication Center, or MACC Base, along with Milford and Mont Vernon for dispatching services. This month, Mont Vernon and Wilton have signed an agreement continuing that partnership for another 10 years, but Milford has yet to sign the agreement.

Milford has, in fact, put out a request for proposals for a separate communication center to serve their individual town. But Wilton Select Board members said Milford has not been up-front with them about their potential plans.

“They have been very closed mouthed, and we’ve had no communication,” Wilton Select Board Chair Kellie-Sue Boissonnault said in an interview Wednesday. “They’re really shutting down with us.”

Boissonnault said Wilton has requested an audience with the Milford Select Board at its meeting on Dec. 10, which will also include members of the Mont Vernon Select Board. The boards have attempted to have face-to-face conversations with the Milford by inviting the board to a Wilton board meeting on Nov. 19, but the Milford board declined to attend because they did not have enough notice. Wilton has also requested minutes from Milford regarding their discussions on MACC Base.

On Nov. 20, the town of Milford issued a request for proposals for a designed system for a dispatch center. The dispatch center would be constructed on one of three proposed locations, either the Milford police station, fire station, or fourth floor of the Town Hall, where MACC Base is now located.

According to the request for proposal, the Milford Police Department has had issues with the ability to hear or communicate to other staff members using the existing MACC Base infrastructure. The Milford police have also experienced “dead spots” within the towns using MACC Base, where they are unable to transmit or receive information through dispatch. 

In August, Milford completed a feasibility study conducted by Municipal Resources, Inc., to evaluate the MACC Base operation and determine if it would be more feasible for Milford to operate its own dispatch center. The Municipal Resources Team determined there is a need for Milford to own and operate its own dispatch center.

Boissonnault said the current arrangement has Milford, Wilton and Mont Vernon as partners, who each have a say in how the service is run. The town has less interest in being a customer of an individual dispatch service, which would mean they don’t have decision-making power. 

“For us, it works better as a partnership,” Boissonnault said.

During the Wilton Select Board meeting on Monday, the Select Board spoke with the Wilton fire and police chiefs about what the prospects would be if Milford does decide to strike out on their own. The board discussed speaking with other providers, but made not specific plan.

Based on the current agreement between the three towns, if Milford wishes to withdraw from the MACC Base partnership, it must give the other partners at least one-year notice, Boissonnault said. And realistically, if Milford has to construct a new communications center, it would be at least two years before they were ready to operate.

But even if they have at least a year to decide what to do for their dispatch services, the Select Board expressed concern that the lack of job security would lead to issues with keeping employees on the job.

“It’s not a situation where it’s an overnight thing, but we need to be prepared, and know where we’re going to go,” Wilton Police Chief Eric Olesen said during Monday’s meeting. 

 

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