Town to stay in dispatch center

Rumors around Milford’s withdrawal called ‘baseless’

MILFORD – Milford will not be pulling out of the area emergency com­munications center – at least not anytime soon.

At the Nov. 21 meet­ing of the Mont Vernon Board of Selectmen, two local representatives of the MACC-Base (Milford Area Communications Center) board of gover­nors expressed frustra­tion that Milford wouldn’t agree to the agency’s bud­get for next year – specifi­cally, a $50,000 line item for new equipment. The Milford representative said the town needed time to research going out on its own.

Jay Wilson, the Mont Vernon fire chief and a MACC-Base representa­tive, said that by zeroing out the equipment line item, Milford was putting emergency service for all member towns at risk.

Milford officials later said, however, that they aren’t leaving the center.

Mike Putnam, a Milford selectman and MACC-Base representative, said in a phone interview that new equipment is needed, but that before it invests any more money into the existing system, Milford wanted to look at its options and practice due diligence.

Milford’s contract doesn’t expire until 2018, said Milford Town Ad­ministrator Mark Bender, who said there is a lot of value in having a regional communications center for dispatch.

"Nobody wants to bail out," he said. "There are a lot of baseless rumors."

The town’s portion of the MACC-Base budget, around $500,000, is a sig­nificant part of Milford’s operating budget.

"We want to make sure we take time and invest in the right equipment," Bender said.

MACC-Base provides emergency radio and telephone communica­tions for ambulance, fire, police, public works and emergency management agencies for Mont Ver­non, Milford and Wilton. It also serves as a back­up center for Amherst, Brookline and Hollis.

The Lyndeborough Po­lice Department, which had been part of the Southwestern New Hamp­shire District, went back to MACC-Base this year.

Wilson said later in a phone interview that the MACC-Base board came up with a compromise budget.

In the long run, he said, for efficiency’s sake it would be better for this area to have one, instead of several, emergency communication centers, because the necessary equipment is expensive.

Hollis and Amherst each has its own center. The Wilton- Lyndeborough-Temple Ambulance Service be­longs to the southwest network. Amherst pulled out of MACC-Base and started its own communi­cations center in 2005.

Towns tend to act in their own best interests, Wilson said. However, "Sometimes we have to do what’s in the best interest of everybody," he said.

Wilson cited the city of Concord, whose emer­gency communications system includes 22 towns, and Keene, which is joined by about 70 towns in southwest New Hamp­shire and northwestern Massachusetts.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.