Dispatch cost presentation postponed

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

A presentation on what the services and cost of dispatching provided to the Town of Bridgton by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office would entail has been postponed until next month.

The Bridgton Board of Selectmen originally had scheduled the presentation on dispatching services by Captain William Holmes of the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center for their Oct. 26 meeting.

Now, Capt. Holmes’ presentation will take place at a special selectmen’s meeting on Nov. 16 at 6 p.m. at the Bridgton Municipal Complex.

A recently completed study of the Bridgton Police Department, performed by Public Safety Strategies Group of Massachusetts, recommended the town look into having emergency and police dispatching handled by Cumberland County, citing a potential yearly cost savings of $140,000 and better efficiency in services provided.

The report did not recommend, however, that Bridgton look into dissolving its own police force in favor of the Sheriff’s Office. In fact, the PSSG study found that 71% of those surveyed are opposed to disbanding the Bridgton Police Department, due to cost savings or for any other reason.

Both Jeffrey Borneman and Vincent Ciliberto attended Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting to voice their strong opposition to any suggestion that the Bridgton Police Department should be abolished.

Borneman directly addressed his remarks to Chairman Art Triglilone, demanding that Triglione “state emphatically to us, tonight, that your intent is to not dissolve the Bridgton Police Department.”

Chairman Triglione told Borneman he could not make that promise, as the decision whether to do that or not isn’t up to him.

“No, I’m not going to make that promise,” Triglione said.

Borneman said at least 100 people had called him, after reading The Bridgton News last week in which it was reported that the board of selectmen would ask to have a presentation on police services by the Sheriff’s Office, in addition to their proposal for handling dispatching services for Bridgton.

Chairman Triglione told Borneman, “It’s interesting to me that people would call you, as opposed to calling the board of selectmen.”

“My position on the board is to look at all the efficiencies we can,” Triglione stated further. “I look at cost versus services. The (PSSG) report said we should consider it (looking into outsourcing law enforcement services, as well as dispatching). We’re looking at cost savings. If you could get the same services for considerably less, would you consider that option?”

“Your premise is wrong,” Borneman shot back. “You’re comparing the Bridgton Police Department to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.”

“I look at all cost savings for the town,” Triglione told Borneman. “I’m only one board member here, and you’re directing your questions and comments to me.”

“You’re the chairman,” Borneman replied.

“We were all unanimous to bring in the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office to give a presentation (on law enforcement services),” said Triglione. “It was a unanimous board decision. I don’t make decisions alone.”

Selectman Paul Hoyt told Borneman that the selectmen want to look at “cost comparisons with both the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Maine State Police.”

Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said Tuesday that the Maine State Police had responded to his letter of Sept. 29 requesting price quotes for dispatching services. Cliff Wells, director of the Department of Public Safety’s Consolidated Emergency Communications Bureau, said his agency’s current per capita dispatching rates “are based on the Maine Public Utilities Commission rate setting case that this Department was required to go through.”

“The below rates were set by that process and are in place until June 30, 2011,” Wells stated in his letter. “The Department utilizes the U.S. Census Bureau 2000 population figures to calculate the per capita rate.”

The per capita dispatching rates for the Maine State Police are: Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Service, $3.54; Dispatch services — large law enforcement agency, $11.34; medium law enforcement agency, $8.51; small law enforcement agency, $7.09; call fire department, $2.13; and call emergency medical services, $2.84.

Selectman Woody Woodward said he intends to listen to all of the presentations regarding law enforcement services, but in the end he said he will make his decision based on what Bridgton’s citizens say they want, and “71 percent said ‘no’ (as to dissolving the police department),” stated Woodward.

“Therefore, I’m willing to listen to it (the Sheriff’s Office presentation on law enforcement services), but I am also going to listen to what townspeople said. I still look at it, saying, 71% don’t want to change, regardless of the cost.”

Like Borneman, West Bridgton resident Vincent Ciliberto told Selectmen Triglione, Hoyt and Woodward Oct. 26 that he is vehemently opposed to the possibility of the Bridgton Police Department being disbanded.

“The people did speak,” Ciliberto said. “They said ‘no.’ I think you’re wrong. I’m dead set against it.”

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