January 21, 2020

Old Town to discuss moving dispatch

OLD TOWN — Residents on Monday will again have their chance to sound off on a plan to move emergency dispatch services out of the city to a countywide system.

The plan, expected to trim about $80,000 from the annual dispatching budget, was not warmly received at a similar public hearing last month, as residents implored city councilors to keep the service local.

The proposal would move the city’s fire, police and ambulance dispatching services to the Penobscot Regional Communications Center in the basement of the 3rd District Court building in Bangor.

City officials estimated the dispatching budget would decrease from $184,000 to $102,000 should the council opt to make the switch.

But saving money isn’t everything, residents of this traditionally frugal city told the council in July. Many residents cited the fear of losing the personal touch and local control of the hometown police department now open 24 hours a day.

The regional service would limit that to business hours on weekdays.

Police Chief Donald O’Halloran said Friday that the needed equipment upgrades to keep the dispatch center in the city would cost about $14,000. To transfer operations to the Bangor-based dispatching center wold require a one-time cost of $42,000, he said.

Old Town is now one of only five Penobscot County municipalities — Bangor, Lincoln, East Millinocket and Medway being the others — not served by the regional center.

The council is not expected to vote on the plan at Monday’s meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the Old Town High School auditorium.

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