State House OKs creation of regional dispatches

Hartford — A bill that would give municipalities, including New London, Waterford and East Lyme, the power to create a regional dispatch authority for police, fire and emergency services is moving along in the state legislature.

The state House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill Tuesday, and it now goes to the Senate for a possible vote.

The bill came from the three towns' desire to create a regional dispatch center. A governing board, which would include representatives from each town, would negotiate how to divvy up costs and how to staff the center.

A regional dispatch center would be eligible for state and federal funds. Currently, interlocal agreements can leave one municipality with a disproportionate share of the total costs and responsibilities.

During the House session, state Rep. Janice Giegler, R-Danbury, asked why the towns came to the state instead of working it out among themselves.

"That is a very good question," said state Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven. Dargan said the three municipalities worked on the idea for eight years but had difficulty figuring out how to deal with labor contracts. Current regionalization options can require the employees to become private or nonprofit employees instead of government employees.

Once a governing board is created, it would negotiate with each of the labor unions, Tammy Daugherty, New London's development and planning director, said earlier this month.

"And that could be short or could be lengthy," she said. "There are sort of a lot of unknowns."

If passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, the legislation could be applied to any towns or cities that wanted to regionalize their dispatch centers.

j.somers@theday.com

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