The Selectmen on Wednesday endorsed the concept of a warrant article that would allow the town to dip into free cash to pay the dispatch budget.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen on Wednesday endorsed a Solomon-like plan to fund the dispatchers for the coming year as they explore options with the Berkshire County sheriff's office.
If the Finance Committee agrees, a warrant article will be offered at town meeting for $100,000 in free cash to fund local dispatch services through the fiscal year if no solution has been decided on by Jan. 1.
"It's a carrot to get the process going," said Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington of the halfway measure because it will still give the town a deadline to pin down what effects contracting with the sheriff's dispatch center would have.
The board had targeted the dispatch department for elimination as part of a general trend toward regional consolidation to save costs, budgeting only six months as it negotiated with the sheriff's office. The move kicked up a hornet's nest of protest from residents and the dispatchers themselves.
Then, three weeks ago, the Finance Committee voted 11-1 not to recommend the police budget of $1.4 million because it didn't include the dispatchers.
Putting back in the $97,000 to keep local dispatch for the last six months of fiscal 2013 would put the town above its tax levy ceiling.
"The options that we have if the board's budget isn't approved at town meeting are to do an override, to have the budget voted down and have no budget," said Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, who suggested the fallback. "That prevents us from not having a budget on July 1. ...
"That warrant article is the insurance policy."
John Pansecchi, a dispatcher and assistant fire chief, objected to the way the board had approached the change. "There are three agencies involved in this," he said. "There are other options and funding mechanisms."
Pansecchi, and then town meeting member Jeffrey Lefebvre went back and forth with an increasingly frustrated Butler, asking for information he said he didn't have yet.
Butler said the town was in very preliminary talks with the sheriff's department and getting a feasibility study. "The state pays for the study and we were in the middle of getting it authorized."
The Finance Committee had put the brakes on the process and cooled talks with the sheriff's department, he said.
Harrington said it was inevitable there would be disagreements on how to proceed. But he believed "it is an economic benefit and a safety benefit if we regionalize. ... I think it's important for us to go forward with a commitment."
Town officials believe contracting dispatch services could save nearly $200,000 a year.
"We're not here trying to destroy the town of Adams, we're trying to run it more efficiently," said Butler.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Comments are closed for this article. If you would like to contribute information on this article, e-mail us at info@iBerkshires.com
If the finance committee in it;s 11-1 vote didn't recommend the police budget because it didn't include the dispatchers, It has to be telling the people something, again, maybe Mr. Butler the TA should be more in tooned in getting his information for the public, and stop trying to be a part of the gang of four, or maybe he will get a "Carrot" from the chairman.
It's just another Dog & Phony show, more power to the people, keep asking the hard questions.
So Mr. Butler says that their not trying to destroy the Town of Adams, hes right. They already have. Cutting DPW jobs, trying to cut the dispatchers, trying to merge the fire department with the forest wardens, etc. Why don't we try to operate with in our means so that when the state finally knows the amount of funds going to the communities, the money can go into the general fund.
I believe we should cut the administrators budget, get rid of the labor specialist, because both the administrator and council should have settled with the municipal workers. How about the merging of the DPW budgets so that the Wastewater Technicians have to go out and mow lawns, because they cut the summer help. Its not like anyone in Highway, Cemetery or Parks can go into the Wastewater plant and do their jobs.
We have a board that is out for themselves and Mr. Ouellette received awake up call in the past election. We need people to really step up to the plate and take a swing. Our community needs its citizens to take up responsibility and take part in our Town. To stop the implosion of our Town Government.
A "Solomon-like plan"??? As far as I am concerned, Joe doesn't seem so bad these days, does he?? No one here is ever happy with what they have... remember, the majority of the people voted for each and every one of these "representatives" and sometimes in life you get what you deserve...
Has anyone taken the time to notice that this alleged "circus" that you have running your town has Adams in a far better budget spot than many of it's neighbors and especially North Adams? I don't see Adams taking a 1.2 million override vote. Lucky you!
Careful what you ask for. I think the people of that community should stop listening to those that have always just opposed everything, and start appreciating what they got its better than the rest of us.
Point well taken, but don't count your chickens before there hatched, you might have the same problem as we do, not as bad but you too might be looking for a override of around $100.00 per househole happy days are here again.
I don't understand the reasoning behind the cut of the dispatchers. I understand that the town wants to save money but I guess the safety and well being of the town doesn't seem to matter.
First and foremost by using outside contractors to dispatch our emergency personal, the time it takes for them to be notified will rise significantly. In a rural area like Adams, we can't afford to slow the response time specially, when there are emergencies in the far outskirts of town and with the high amount of elderly in the area. Those extra minutes could be the difference between life and death.
On top of that, the out side contractors won't be as familiar with the area, which will not help emergency personal, when they are unsure of where the location of an emergency is and who that emergency might be regarding.
I don't want to write a whole paper on why this is not a good idea. But I am truly worried about what the repercussions of this decision will be, when we get rid of our dispatchers.
Annoyed Neighbor, don't forget we did adjust the tax rate at a special town meeting about the school building project for the next 20 years to pay for it. This covers cost that will not be reimbursed by the state, to the tune of 10 million give or take. Now its been awhile so I could be wrong, but we are very close to a 2 1/2 override anyway.
Editor: The town is very close to its levy ceiling. Mr. Butler pointed out that one of the options for paying a full year of dispatch and animal control salaries was an override.
The difference between Adams and North Adams is interesting. Some city residents are calling to abolish the full-time fire department to save costs, yet town residents seem willing to pass an override to save three jobs.
Thank you Editor for your great comments. It is obvious to me that these posts are from the dispatcher(s) themselves. It appears to be a vocal minority that want an override to save a couple of jobs. For "WORRIED Adams resident" to say the response time will be longer because the phones are answered in Pittsfield rather than Adams is ludicrous. Pure bunk. The educated and informed residents of Adams surely recognize the writer as a scaremonger. (oh, and a dispatcher)
Dear Annoyed Neighbor,
No i don't just like to hear myself talk, I was trying to tell you something about Adams, and yes, I know N.A. is in the red to the toon of over 1.2 million, but please get your head out of the sand, I told you yesterday that Adams might have to do a override, Read the paper "Adams Officials to look at options for police budget"TA said if the town members follow the finance committee;s recommendation, there will be no police budget $96,379 needs to be add to fund the dispatchers till the end of the year, or a 2.5 override is needed. Butler said. please get your facts stright.
Well my take on saving three jobs is simply this, keep the dispatchers, get rid of some police cruisers. We have a fleet of vehicles and most are seen parked at the station. I feel that we could cut several cruisers out of the fleet (saving money on gas and maintenance) or cut two and get a proper animal control vehicle. Is there anything wrong with having police officers on walking patrol?
These three dispatchers don't just coordinate the Police, but the Alerts, the Ambulance Service and the Forest Wardens. I agree that outsourcing to the Sheriff's Dept. could make response time longer then needed.
It just seems that in a time were everyone is expected to make sacrifices, why can't the town cut elsewhere to make it work. Why can't we operate within our means? Services are plentiful, which aren't utilized? I'm sure the Administrator's budget could be reduced, why does the TA need to spend $80,000 for a labor lawyer, when we have a town council? And do not tell me that Labor Law is very complex and a specialist is needed. It just seems that in the past there never was a huge problem between the Town and its employees. People will make the needed sacrifices if the Town would work with the union and the members. You can't cut the workers off at the knees and expect them to fine with it. Give a little to get a little.
Jon Butler claims that this move to get rid of the dispatchers would save $200,000. Someone on FinComm asked how much it costs now...Butler didn't know. He went ahead with this plan without talking to the Fire Chief or the Ambulance Service. Do they just think this stuff up and go with it without any investigation. These guys (selectmen) and Butler need to go.
To THANK YOU. You think you know that response times will be the same. I think you are full of it. It is a proven fact that it will slow response times. When your house is burning down and you are not home and your children call 911 and are sent to who knows where and are trying to explain where they live, then you may jump over to the other side. I am not a dispatcher, but I do know all of the dispatchers in Adams and they do a great job. There is a lot more work to be done in a police station than you expect. And if you know anything about the town of Adams, there are a good share of "nuts" that have great relationships with the dispatchers because they call in just to talk to someone. By taking away their jobs it will save the town some money but will cause a lot more problems for people in Adams that are comfortable and familiar with them.
Adams is a pathetic town. The whole town board is a joke, and a power struggle. It is all about who is in charge and not about making the town better. Paula Melville may be doing things that aren't normal on the board but she is trying to get down and fix what so many board members have dusted under the rug.
The board of selectman is supposed to work together as a team and when you watch one of their meetings, it is like they don't even know each other. They talk to each other like strangers, instead of working together as a team to fix the town.
The police and town want to cut dispatchers, when in the mean time they are hiring more and more officers, that half the time are at the station or are sitting around. All of the honor and integrity of the Adams Police Station has been thrown out the window.
Look what happened with the police officer who was a pedophile and had tons of child pictures on a police station computer. And the other police officers that sleep while they are supposed to be on duty.
ALL in ALL the people on the boards and in charge in Adams are all out to gain as much Power as possible and not for the better of the town. I don't know what happened to people that want to help each other and work together to make things better. In another 20 years all of our children are going to have to deal with the problems that all of this power struggle have caused.
To those who seem to want to spread disinformation to support their agenda I would like to say that getting rid of all the police cruisers would not provide the money to fund the dispatchers. Also, the number of officers at the police department is at an all time low. They have not been "hiring" but have been REPLACING officers. Just so you know, not everyone who has retired or resigned in the last few years have been replaced. What does the officer who embarrassed every officer, dispatcher, town official, and town member have to do with the current police department memebers? Please fight for the dispatchers jobs but provide facts and realistic options.
One issue with your post....about the officer who embarrassed the entire town. Could you get away with what he did at your workplace. Who was his supervisor? Where was the Chief? To do what he did, at his workplace, with pictures of children, shows that there is NO management here.
There needs to be some ramifications for those who were supposed to be "managing" the officers. If he had the time and opportunity to do what he did, something is very wrong, and a major shakeup needs to take place.
I can understand someone fighting for their job. But people need to understand it is about dollars and cents, as unfortunate as that may be.
You mentioned officers sleeping on the job. I'm sorry to burst your bubble but those "officers" were actually the dispatchers, feet up, head back, catching ZZZs. This has been observed more times than not.
Also, in regards to response time.. When someone calls, like that young child home alone that you mentioned, and they call 1212, there is no caller id. The police station has NO CALLER ID how is this even possible. Confidentiality I know, but guess what the sheriff’s office knows every call and can actually see the house or location of the call via GPS and satellite. The technology is astronomical and Adams does not have it.
Also, don't forget, the SAME PEOPLE are going to be responding to the 911 dispatch. When the sheriff’s office sends out the alert, just as Adams dispatch would, it goes to the same individuals, Adams Police, Adams Fire, and Adams EMT. All the same people who know all the little street and Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so. Besides that what GPS is for? Also Adams radios have dead spots in town. They may be on a call somewhere need to use the radio and cant because of dead zones. Well not if we go with the sheriff’s office, our technology with improve because of the extra money we are able to save from the sleeping dispatcher.
Either way, I can understand no one wants to loose their job. But don't say they are fighting for it for "the people" because it isn’t. It’s for their mortgage.