When Gardiner city officials were informed by the state’s Regional Communication Center in Augusta that the city would have to look elsewhere for public safety dispatching services starting July 1, they found themselves in a bind.

Now, Gardiner City Manager Christine Landes is asking for the support of city elected officials in finding a solution.

Specifically, Landes is seeking backing for an increased level of funding to offer to the RCC  for dispatch services over the next three years, and for a proposal to have state lawmakers to create a board to oversee emergency communications. She’ll bring that up at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Gardiner is one of 22 communities in Kennebec County that currently relies on the RCC for dispatch services, along with the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. Like the other communities, it was informed last summer that it would have to secure dispatching services from another agency. While the sheriff’s office and 21 communities could be handled by the Augusta police dispatchers, Gardiner could not be.

In meetings with county and municipal officials, Cliff Wells, emergency communication director for the state Department of Public Safety, has said the RCC has plans to upgrade to a new software package. Continuing to use IMC, the software that the sheriff’s office and the other communities use, he said, alongside the RCC’s new Spillman system, would not be feasible.

In searching for a dispatch center that could accommodate Gardiner’s volume of calls, city officials found that the costs would be more than twice what Gardiner currently pays for RCC dispatch services.

“We had nine- or 10-months’ notice,” Landes said Tuesday. “We’re grateful, because our contract with the RCC required only six months’ notice.”

Even so, that hasn’t been enough time to find a solution.

At a recent Kennebec County Commissioners meeting, Wells proposed continuing to serve the sheriff’s office and the 22 communities in the county on their software for $640,000, the cost of hiring seven more dispatchers.

Landes and Gardiner Police Chief James Toman have proposed paying $185,000 a year for three years to continue to use RCC dispatching, and they have reached out to the other communities urging them to remain with the RCC and use that time to find a better solution.

Landes is also seeking support to pursue state legislation that would re-create an emergency communications governing board, similar to the board that was dissolved by the Legislature several years ago.

City officials are also expected to:

• Have a discussion with Augusta Mayor David Rollins about Gardiner joining the Maine Mayors’ Coalition

• Hear an update from Ingrid Stanchfield about the Boys and Girls Club of Kennebec Valley

• Consider extending the lease with Southern Kennebec Child Development Services for the former South Gardiner School for five years

• Have a discussion with Fire Chief Al Nelson about the SAFER grant and fire department staffing

• Consider using funds from the sale of tax-acquired properties to reimburse the Gardiner Board of Trade for funds lent to the city to acquire 2 Highland Ave., as part of the plan to develop the former T.W. Dick parcels at Summer and Bridge streets

• Consider approving the council’s 2019 goals and meeting guidelines that resulted from the Feb. 2 goal-setting session

• Consider approving the minutes of the Feb. 6 meeting.

The City Council will go into executive session to discuss contract negotiations for assessing service and to discuss the six month review for the city manager.

The Gardiner City Council meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the city council chamber at 6 Church St.

 

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632
[email protected]
Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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