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Ledyard subcommittee undecided on fate of dispatch center

By Anna Isaacs

Publication: The Day

Published June 19. 2013 4:00AM

Ledyard - About 20 emergency services personnel and their supporters packed the Town Council chambers Tuesday afternoon to hear an update on the future of Ledyard dispatch, only to be told again that months of work have yielded no conclusion.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Sean McGuckin reviewed the 18 months of work at the committee's meeting, beginning with the formation of a subcommittee to research regionalization options and compare the costs. While the emphasis prior to this effort was on bringing in another town's dispatch center in order to take advantage of state incentives, the focus has shifted to either sticking with Ledyard's service or outsourcing.

The subcommittee has narrowed it down to three options: keeping the service in town or outsourcing it to Groton Town or Montville. McGuckin said on Tuesday that Voluntown may be interested in joining up with Ledyard in town.

Ledyard has been dispatching Preston emergency services for a little more than a decade now, bringing in $25,000 annually. But McGuckin said the addition of Voluntown would bring in only $5,000 and "is not going to solve any money problems."

The costs of outsourcing or keeping services here are still under wraps while Mayor John Rodolico is in talks with the town's labor unions to determine whether the cost at home can be lowered. But McGuckin said the Town of Groton would be the least expensive option, while keeping the center here would be the most expensive but "operationally" the best choice, based on the dispatchers' experience and familiarity with the town.

Montville is the middle-ground choice in terms of cost, he said, and could also give dispatchers an opportunity to stay employed, albeit with a commute across the river.

Ledyard's dispatch center consists of six full-time dispatchers and eight part-timers. In March, the Ledyard Police Union sent a letter to Rodolico and the Town Council voicing their opposition to outsourcing the jobs.

Down the road, there is a concern that the state could force regionalization, leaving the town without a say.

"In some way, shape or form, regionalization has got to be the way forward," McGuckin said. "It's going to be the way to reduce the costs and to just get the number of people into dispatch centers … to make them as operationally effective as they can be."

McGuckin said that recommending any one option to the Town Council now would be too soon.

"I know that sucks for you guys," he told the crowd, eliciting some sighs. "I'm sorry, but I'd rather get it right."

a.isaacs@theday.com

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