WATERVILLE — Area communities that contract with the Waterville Regional Communications Center for dispatching services might be asked to pay more money for those services in the city’s 2019-20  budget.

The communications center, based at the police station, dispatches for not only the city, but also for Winslow, Oakland, Albion, Belgrade, China, Rome, Clinton and Sidney, officials said Tuesday night at a City Council budget workshop.

The increased dispatching fees would help to offset increasing operational costs, especially those related to emergency medical and emergency fire protocols, according to City Manager Michael Roy. He and others developed a formula for fees based on population and call volume, with 75 percent based on population and 25 percent on call volume.

Police dispatcher Kecia Blaisdell answers a call June 15, 2018, at the Waterville police dispatch center at the Waterville Police Department. Communities that contract with the Waterville Regional Communications Center might be asked to pay more for dispatching services in the city’s 2019-20 budget. Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

The amount of proposed increases for each community has not been determined yet.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said Wednesday that dispatching fees Waterville would charge as part of any increase are still probably on the low side compared to those charged by other communications centers.

The council has the final say about proposed increases, as it would vote to consider authorizing the city manager to sign contracts with communities for dispatching services, and new fees would be contained in those contracts.

Councilor Jay Coelho, D-Ward 5, asked Tuesday if there is a benefit to Waterville having its own communications center.

Massey said if the city were to relinquish its center, it never again could open one at the same cost. City dispatchers have institutional knowledge that would be lost if the city were to close its communications center, which Massey does not recommend.

“We have a strong voice when the state wants to change anything in dispatching for the whole state,” he said.

The proposed Police Department budget — the largest of all city departments in terms of personnel and budget — is $4.12  million, an increase over the $3.96 million approved for 2018-19. The plan represents a $164,221 increase. Police plan to buy three cruisers, and two of those cruisers will be purchased with drug forfeiture money totaling $65,000, according to Massey.

The other $99,436 increase is reflected mostly in contractual salary and wage increases, he said.

“Personnel services is $2.4 million, which is more than half of my budget right there,” Massey told the council Tuesday.

Group health insurance costs decreased by $37,000, he said.

“How many vehicles have over 100,000 miles?” Councilor Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, asked.

“Probably two, possibly three,” Massey said.

The department has 14 vehicles, two of which police took in drug forfeitures and use as unmarked cars, he said.

In discussions about parking and other fees, Massey said the only fees the Police Department receives are parking fees. Money from speeding tickets, failure to stop at stop signs and fines for operating under the influence, for instance, all go directly to the state, he said Wednesday.

In other matters Tuesday, the council discussed proposed budgets for parks and recreation, Robert LaFleur Airport and human resources.

The next budget meeting, to discuss Waterville Public Library, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Chace Community Forum at Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons downtown. The Waterville Board of Education also will hold a joint session with the council to discuss budgets.

 

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