FREEPORT — Formal negotiations could soon begin toward consolidation of all dispatch services with Brunswick.
The two towns began preliminary discussions last month as they consider ways to balance declining state revenue sharing with local mandates not to increase property taxes.
Brunswick already provides emergency 911 dispatch for Freeport. An agreement would add non-emergency calls to the arrangement.
Freeport Town Manager Dale Olmstead said Tuesday that he is prepared to resume negotiations with Brunswick and with Cumberland County, pending approval by the Town Council on Feb. 23.
Freeport last May discussed consolidating dispatch services with the county, but the Town Council ultimately tabled the proposal. Olmstead said he was approached by Brunswick last month to consider the alternate plan.
Olmstead said the county’s proposal would save the town about $100,000 in the 2010-2011 budget.
The savings associated with a Brunswick merger could be less, he said, although the fact that Freeport E-911 calls are already answered by Brunswick dispatchers could assuage concerns from town councilors and residents.
Olmstead said the savings would largely come from staff cuts. Freeport employs four full-time dispatchers. Olmstead said any consolidation deal would require that existing employees be given first consideration for openings with Brunswick or the county.
Brunswick Town Manager Gary Brown said the merger would likely mean hiring one additional dispatcher.
Brown said the salary would likely be offset by operating fees collected from Freeport. The fees would also pay most of the estimated $200,000 in needed capital costs and, Brown said, potentially generate revenues for Brunswick.
Brown declined to say how much Brunswick could make from the merger, but said a deal could enhance the town’s ability to retain its E-911 services.
Brown told the Brunswick Town Council on Monday that he expected to begin talks with Freeport on Feb. 22.
Olmstead said he’ll be asking the Town Council to authorize negotiations with Brunswick and the county later this month.
“The council will have to decide where we solve this dilemma,” Olmstead said. “Either we change the way we deliver services or raise property taxes – or it’s a combination of both. It’s the same story in every town.”
Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or email@example.com