Montville considers options for regional dispatch efforts

Montville - The town is exploring two options for creating a regional dispatch service, which has been a goal for about three years now.

Montville plans to bid on a consolidation proposal from Colchester Emergency Communications, or KX, which serves eight towns and Middlesex Hospital in Middletown. The town is also waiting on a decision from Ledyard, which has been discussing outsourcing its dispatch operations to Montville or Groton Town.

The recently completed public safety building was designed to accommodate a regional service, and Fire Marshal Ray Occhialini said its large dispatch center and 140-foot radio tower are selling points.

"We're built, we're here," he said, explaining it would take other towns two years to build a similar complex.

Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico has visited Montville to discuss regionalizing dispatch services, and Occhialini said the most recent meeting between himself, Rodolico and Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel was "encouraging."

McDaniel said Ledyard expressed some concerns about whether Montville could absorb its personnel, but he believes it would not be a problem. Ledyard has six full-time and eight part-time dispatchers. Occhialini said that Montville would hire at least four of the full-time dispatchers.

KX, which serves Bozrah, Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton, Haddam Neck, Lebanon, Marlborough and Salem, put out a request for proposals in May to consolidate its dispatch services with another town.

Occhialini said KX's proposal describes old equipment and debt issues, which likely contributed to its decision to consolidate its operations.

If Montville is able to consolidate with KX, it would be "a win-win for everybody," Occhialini said. He said consolidating with Colchester might make Montville eligible for state grants that support regionalization.

"We're in a good position to take (the KX towns) on," he said. He mentioned that Montville would also be interested in taking on some of the smaller towns if KX ends up breaking into smaller organizations.

Bids for consolidation are due to the Colchester first selectman on Aug. 2. Occhialini said he planned to drop off a bid from Montville a day early.

With its new center, Montville is "very well poised" to provide dispatch services to a number of towns, McDaniel said. He said that Rhode Island only has one dispatch center and California only has a small number, while Connecticut has more than 100 centers.

Some towns are reluctant to give up their own dispatch service and are concerned that out-of-towners won't know their roads, but that fear is outdated, McDaniel said.

He said he envisions Montville's dispatch center having a Council of Governments-like membership committee, with towns involved in the center's management but dispatch employees handling the day-to-day operations.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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