Communications center on town warrant

MILFORD – Voters in March will be asked to approve a $2.5 million bond for a Milford-only communication center. Monday night selectmen voted to put the bond on the town warrant, and there will be a public hearing Monday, Jan. 14, at 6:30 p.m. in the selectmen’s meeting room.

The money would pay for new equipment and the expansion of the police station for a dispatch center.

Selectmen, who recently signed a two-year contract with Mont Vernon and Wilton for the regional dispatch center called MACC-Base, are divided. The vote was 3-2.

“This is basically us fixing our problems,” said board Chairman Kevin Federico. “We’ve been talking about this for eight-plus years.” He called the $2.5 million a realistic number based on a proposal from 2-Way Communications Services of Newington.

MACC-Base is unable to finance needed improvements and consultants told officials in September that the regional agency is not serving the town’s needs and Milford should go off on its own.

Selectmen Gary Daniels and Mike Putnam are opposed. Daniels said he doesn’t want to ask voters to approve a plan that he doesn’t yet fully understand, and Putnam said the new fire station would be a better location for the dispatch center.

Selectmen approved unanimously most of the 33 other warrant articles.

Daniels was the sole dissenter on the $14.7 million operating budget, saying 3 percent wage increase are too much, considering the consumer price index has only gone up 1.9 percent.

Town Administrator Mark Bender said less than 3 percent increase would make Milford noncompetitive, and the public works department recently lost two employees to better-paying towns.

“Ultimately, a revolving door costs more,” he said.

Putnam was the sole dissenter on the Osgood Pond dredging article, which would cost taxpayers $175,000 to complete Phase 2 of the restoration of the town’s largest body of water. A state grant would

pay the balance of the $350,000 cost.

“A lot more things have a higher priority,” he said. “There will be grants in the future.”

Phase 1 has cleared the pond for fishing and boating and added a boat dock. Federico said the improvements will last for more than 20 years and Bender said the cost would only add 12.5 cent tax impact.

“I don’t want to hear it’s only 12 cents,” Putnam said. “Every little bit counts.”

Daniels was also the only no vote for the $40,000 social services funding warrant article, the $8,500 fireworks article and one to add $25,000 to the Keyes Park capital reserve fund.

The other Keyes article – $200,000 for a new pool pump and maintenance – was OK’d 5-0.

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