Dispatch contract eyed

TREMONT — Selectmen on Monday decided to take a closer look at dispatch service for the town’s volunteer fire department, approving 4-0 a motion to have fire Chief Keith Higgins put together a list of the pros and cons of staying with Southwest Harbor versus switching to the regional center in Ellsworth.

On paper, there would be considerable savings with going to the Hancock County Regional Communications Center (RCC). Southwest Harbor charges the town $20,000 annually for the service. The RCC would charge $3,100 – a difference of $16,900.

Higgins told selectmen the RCC offers “substantial savings” to the town, but Southwest Harbor provides services the Ellsworth facility does not, such as issuing fire permits for Tremont residents. The Southwest Harbor dispatchers – three of whom live in Tremont – have an intimate knowledge of the town that the RCC dispatchers lack, Higgins continued.

Discussion of the two services arose from a request from Higgins for the fire department to take over the budget for dispatch services from the town. The fire department, being the end user, is better prepared to negotiate a contract for the service, Higgins said.

Citing moves toward consolidation of emergency services on Mount Desert Island, Higgins said having control of the budget for dispatch would allow for flexibility in the future.

“We want to be part of that conversation,” he said of consolidating dispatch.

Selectmen wanted to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of the two dispatch services and giving the fire department control of the dispatch budget. Higgins is to compile the information and present it at a future meeting.

Tremont does not have its own police department. Police dispatching for the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is through the RCC. Maine State Police locally are dispatched from Orono.

Also on Monday, selectmen approved third-party requests for the annual town meeting warrant, one of the steps to putting a municipal budget before voters at the May meeting. All were approved unanimously in one motion.

Topping the amounts requested is $38,500 for the Southwest Harbor-Tremont Ambulance Service, a $500 decrease from the current year budget.

Harbor House Community Service Agency is requesting $20,275, an increase of $1,700. Harbor House Executive Director Ingrid Wilbur Kachmar said the funds would be targeted for use by the agency’s youth sports program and the Underground, their youth center for third through eighth graders.

Currently there are 48 Tremont youths in the sports programs and 36 using the youth center, Wilbur Kachmar said. And those numbers are growing.

“We’re seeing a lot more young people, particularly in the Underground program,” Wilbur Kachmar said. The extra $1,700 requested would help cover additional adult supervision.

Also slated for the warrant are $3,000 requests for the Island Explorer bus service and the Campfire Coalition, $1,500 requests for Island Connections and the Bar Harbor Food Pantry, $1,600 for Down East Horizons, $897 for Washington Hancock Community Agency and $800 for Hospice of Hancock County.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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