March 28. 2013 9:59PM

Lincoln police dispatch could be outsourced

Special to the Union Leader

LINCOLN - Residents will get a chance to hear a proposal from the Grafton Country Sheriff's Department for the county to take over the town's police dispatch.

The dissolution of the town's dispatch could put five town employees out of work but save the town money, and town officials are urging residents to come to the public informational meeting at the Lincoln Town Hall April 15 at 6 p.m.

"Our goal is to get townspeople out there to hear what they have to say," selectmen chairman O.J. Robinson said Thursday.

The board of selectmen had instructed town manager Butch Burbank to talk to regional dispatch centers that could serve the town, including Grafton County and the town of Plymouth, to see what's available. Grafton County officials came forward with a proposal.

Robinson said it will be the first time selectmen meet with Grafton County officials on the matter, adding that "it's our first chance to listen."

On April 15, according to Burbank, Sheriff Douglas Dutile and Tom Andross, communication director for the Grafton County Dispatch Center, will make a PowerPoint presentation.

The Lincoln Police Department has eight police officers, and contracting dispatch services could save taxpayers more than $200,000, Robinson said, adding that with personnel and other costs, the dispatch center accounts for about $300,000 of the police department's nearly $1 million budget.

In his submission for the town's annual report, Chief Theodore Smith wrote, "The dispatch center has been the heart of our operations, and it would be difficult to provide all our services without the work they do. I would like to thank chief dispatcher Langmaid, dispatchers J.J. Bejeaud, John Gaites, Megan Gaites, and Amy Zabiegaleski. They run the Good Morning Program, send out the Ping announcements, and in general are the good people you talk to when you call us."

Robinson said discussion on transferring the services to the county is no reflection on the police department dispatchers, whom he called "great employees," but a matter of saving the town nearly $250,000.

On April 3 town officials are meeting with Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI), with which the town has contracted for a pay, classification, and benefits study for all town departments. In November 2012, when Burbank proposed the survey, he explained that the last survey had been done more than 10 years ago, and that the survey could lead to greater consistency in compensation, job descriptions and benefits department-wide.

The town budgeted $969,146 for the 2013 police department budget. In 2012, the police budget was $920,515. Wages for the dispatchers added up to about $187,000.

The Lincoln Police Department is currently taking applications for the position of police captain. According to department statistics, in 2012 police answered 27,114 calls for service.

Lincoln has a year-round population of about 1,600, but as a prime tourist destination, the number of people in town swells to many times that during the busy seasons.

The Grafton County Sheriff's Department in North Haverhill dispatches for public safety agencies in more than 20 towns, including Woodstock, Franconia, Littleton, Waterville Valley and Twin Mountain.