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Towns approve central dispatch

Local officials express reservations with support for consolidation plan

— McDonnell said safety enhancements are an important element of the plan in addition to projected savings.

“I am most concerned about maintaining our public safety in our town and our response times, of course our cost savings are wonderful as well,” McDonnell said.

Before the Niskayuna Town Board voted to approve the agreement on Tuesday, July 24, she said she was assured response times would not increase under the plan.

The Rotterdam Town Board approved the agreement on Wednesday, July 11. Supervisor Harry Buffardi after the meeting said “services would be consistent” along with helping balance the budget.

“It is a good way for the town to save money and it helps stay under the state mandated tax cap,” Buffardi said. “The idea of dispatching services is much different in the computer age than before when it was divided up into five to six different parcels.”

Several local officials also said dispatchers would have more of a career path at the centralized station, because there would be supervisory and management positions offered. Every currently employed dispatcher is offered a position at the new station.

The county pushed for an agreement after receiving a $1 million grant from the state to implement the plan that it set to expire in March 2013. Without the grant money, the county would completely fund construction of the Unified Communications Center or the rental cost of the center. Also, there would be $560,000 in dedicated 911 surcharge revenue from the county. The county would also provide up to $143,000 in transitional funding to maintain necessary staffing levels.

Koetzle hopes the collaboration on the central dispatch is part of a trend.

“It is an important first step in working together,” Koetzle said, “and hopefully it’s just the beginning of many things we can do together to help our taxpayers save some money.”

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