Dispatchers, town ink contract

Consolidation with county services still on the table

— Clarkson said he believes the deal was fair. It leaves only the police officer’s union — the largest of the three public safety bargaining units — without a contract.

“Difficult financial times put pressure on employees as well as management, but I think we’ve made the right choices this year and I expect the strain on employee relations to ease over time,” he said. “We are grateful for the service of our highly professional police force and all other town employees.”

Peters said she feels public safety is in jeopardy with the lower staffing levels and decisions are being made from purely a monetary standpoint.

“We can’t just not answer a call. Time is of the essence,” she said. “Our job has become very difficult with the budget cuts… There is going to be a time when something does go unanswered and we will not be responsible for the outcome.”

Meanwhile, Albany County and the town are continuing negotiations to consolidate Bethlehem’s operations into the county. County Executive Dan McCoy made consolidation one of his main goals after taking office and quickly brought dispatching for the cities of Watervliet and Cohoes under the county’s umbrella. Clarkson has said consolidation throughout the town is key to cut costs and running things more efficiently.

Consolidating dispatch services with the county would save the town money since the county would pay the salaries of employees and the town would pay a fee for the service of dispatchers. The county would save money by reducing its overall number of dispatchers.

Peters said the union has no control over the consolidation, but she and Clarkson reported consolidation talks have stalled because of logistics. The county and town each use a different records system. Time and money would be needed to make them compatible. The county also is in need of space because its telecommunications operation has yet to be moved into Clarksville with the new sheriff’s station.

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