Published January 09. 2014 4:00AM Updated January 10. 2014 12:18AM
East Lyme - The Board of Selectmen weighed in Wednesday on creating a New London County Regional Communications Center.
The proposed regional center would consolidate dispatch operations for East Lyme, Waterford and New London. A feasibility study on the dispatch center was completed in July, and an implementation plan is due next month.
Wednesday's presentation at the board meeting highlighted features of the proposed system, including broader communications. All three communities could broadcast information to each other at the same time, for example during a large-scale event or a reported larceny, according to the presentation.
William Allen, the town's project manager for the study, said the new system would bring a "constant flow of information" across all three municipalities by allowing information to be entered into one computer-aided dispatch.
The center, which would charge each town according to demand for services, would be operated with dispatchers under a supervisor during each shift, a board of governors and an information technology officer.
Results of a feasibility study have indicated that the regional center would reduce equipment and maintenance costs for the three communities by $61,000 in total a year. It would also result in $153,693 in combined annual savings since fewer dispatchers than are currently staffed at the three separate dispatch centers would be needed. The study calls for retaining the 21 full-time dispatchers in the communities while eliminating the part-time positions.
Selectman Kevin Seery said one of the key draws for the project is its ability for the communities to simultaneously communicate with each other in the event of a large-scale emergency. He raised the issue of overtime and sick leave and whether 21 dispatchers would be enough for the center. Presenters said the number could evolve as needed.
East Lyme employs four full-time dispatchers and 16 part-time dispatchers. Selectwoman Rose Ann Hardy said part-time positions help provide cost savings because full-time positions require benefits.
The presentation also stressed that the state is moving toward a regional model, and other communities could potentially join the center as partners.
First Selectman Paul Formica said he has also discussed regional dispatch with Montville and KX Communications in Colchester, which covers several towns.
Upgrading to a regional operation would cost about $452,000, plus about $54,250 in annual maintenance fees, The Day has reported, but the state Department of Safety Emergency Telecommunications offers up to $750,000 in grants and yearly subsidies for consolidation, with additional money available.
The committee will next present in New London and Waterford.