FOR THE JOINT PROVISION OF PUBLIC SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS, DISPATCH AND OPERATIONS SERVICES
The Parties to this agreement shall be the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Sheriff’s Department of Essex County, Massachusetts [“Sheriff”] and those municipalities and other local, and regional governmental units of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that execute this agreement as authorized by law and pursuant to its terms and conditions [“Governmental Units”].
This Agreement is entered into willingly by the Parties hereto for the purpose of providing for a regional public safety communication operations center to meet their joint and respective communications needs, which shall include, but not be limited to providing emergency medical dispatch services and expediting timely and efficient responses by police, fire resources of the participating governmental units and expediting timely responses by other First Responders providing emergency services on behalf of the Parties.
The Parties are authorized to enter into this agreement pursuant to the following provisions of Massachusetts law:
a) The Sheriff, pursuant to Article XIX of the Amendments of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, M.G.L. c.34B and c.40, s.4A and 4D, and M.G.L. c.37.
b) All other Governmental Units, pursuant to M.G.L. c.40, s.4A and 4D.
WHEREAS, the Sheriff will provide mutual aid and assistance to member municipalities; and
WHEREAS, the Governmental Units require communications and dispatch services to meet their respective emergency response and law enforcement duties; and
WHEREAS, the Parties recognize that local and regional emergencies require coordination and cooperation to provide timely and effective dispatch of public safety First Responders and ongoing communications support during such incidents; and
WHEREAS, the Parties seek to achieve improved levels of effectiveness, efficiency and cost control in providing such services,
NOW, THEREFORE, the Parties agree to jointly provide a regional emergency communications center under the direction of the Sheriff to render emergency dispatch, communications and operations services as appropriate to their joint and respective needs.
The collaborative service hereby created shall be known as the “Essex Regional Emergency Communications Center” [“RECC”].
This Agreement constitutes the sole and complete agreement among the Parties governing its stated purpose. It establishes a contractual relationship between the Governmental Units and the Sheriff, and between and among the Governmental Units for the purposes stated herein.
This Agreement may be amended by vote of the Parties as set forth in Section 27 below.
This Agreement shall take effect on the first day of the fiscal year following its adoption pursuant to M.G.L. c.40, s.4A, and execution by the Sheriff and not fewer than four (4) Essex County governmental units. This Agreement shall continue in effect for not longer than ten (10) years or the number of Parties hereto becomes fewer than five (5).
8. FINANCIAL LIABILITY
No Party’s financial obligations under this Agreement shall commence until the “Start-Up and Operations Transfer Plan and Budget” (Section 22 below) has been accepted by its executive authority, after a public hearing, and sufficient funds have been appropriated to meet the Party’s financial obligation then due.
The financial liability of any Party shall not exceed its share of initial start-up costs, as set forth in the “Start-Up and Operations Transfer Plan and Budget”, and annual operating costs as apportioned herein.
9. PROVISION OF RECC SERVICES
The RECC shall provide direct services to all municipal Parties to this Agreement and to other First Responders providing emergency services on behalf of the Parties.
The RECC shall not be prohibited from providing incidental indirect services to other governmental units and First Responders providing emergency services in the region, as deemed necessary by the Director to coordinate emergency response by and with the Parties.
The RECC is not authorized to render direct and continuous services to Governmental Units that are not Parties to this Agreement.
10. GOVERNING BOARD
There shall be three Governing Advisory Boards: Fire, Police and Financial comprised of representatives from each of the Parties.
The Fire Advisory Board shall consist of the fire chief of each member community. The Police Advisory Board shall consist of the police chief from each member community. The Finance Advisory Board shall consist of the Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer from each member community. The Sheriff shall be an ex officio representative on each of the three boards.
Each Party shall be entitled to one (1) representative to each Advisory Board.
Representatives to the Police and Fire Advisory Boards must be the Chief of a department for which RECC services are being performed.
Representatives may not have an employment or any other remunerated association with the Sheriff, the Sheriff’s department, or with any other Advisory Board representative.
Representatives shall serve at the pleasure of their respective appointing authorities until they resign or are a replaced.
There shall be an Executive Committee comprised of the Chair of each respective Advisory Board.
11. GOVERNING ADVISORY BOARDS – POWERS
The Financial Advisory Board shall have the authority to:
a) Approve annual and supplement budgets of the RECC,
b) Apportion costs to the Parties as prescribed herein,
c) Approve the annual operating and staffing plans of the RECC and changes thereto,
d) The Finance Advisory Board shall form a sub-committee of three representatives to participate in the collective bargaining activities for RECC units at the agency level. The Sheriff as appointing authority would then have the sole duty, obligation and authority to complete the collective bargaining process with the State Office of Employee Relations and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
e) Subject to the prior approval of the Board of Selectmen in a Town and the Mayor in a City, approve Amendments to this Agreement (provided in section 27).
The Executive Committee comprised of the Chairs of each respective Advisory Board may veto the Sheriff’s nominee for Director, (as provided for in section 17)
The Police and Fire Advisory Boards shall promulgate and approve uniform operating policies, procedures, rules and regulations that govern the development and operations of the RECC,
Each Governing Advisory Board may form such committees and working groups as it deems appropriate and appoint members thereto, provided that no less than one (1) Advisory Board representative is seated on all committees.
Each Governing Advisory Board may exercise any and all authority specified elsewhere in this Agreement, and
Each Governing Advisory Board may delegate its ministerial duties, at its convenience, to the Sheriff.
12. GOVERNING ADVISORY BOARD MEETINGS
Regular meetings of the respective Governing Advisory Boards shall be held within the first ten business days of each fiscal quarter at the site of the RECC. Special and emergency meetings may be called by the Chair of each respective Advisory Board, or by a majority of the Parties by written petition to the Chair, to attend to Advisory Board business prior to its next quarterly meeting.
The Chair shall cause all Parties to be provided with no less than forty-eight (48) hours written notice of all meetings.
Public notices of Advisory Board meetings shall contain the agenda for the meeting. An Advisory Board shall take no vote pertaining to the annual plan and budget or amendments thereto, or the election or recall of an Advisory Board officer, or a veto as herein authorized of any action by the Sheriff, absent notation of such intention in the public notice.
The Executive Committee shall meet monthly with the Sheriff and the Director of the RECC.
A quorum of an Advisory Board shall be required to convene all meetings. A quorum of an Advisory Board shall consist of the presence of at least 50 percent of the members.
A quorum of the Executive Committee members shall be three voting members.
All votes of the Advisory Boards, except those declared without objection as “unanimous”, shall be by roll call. All committee votes may be by voice vote.
Any motion offered for action by an Advisory Board shall be deemed adopted when a majority of representatives present votes in its favor, unless otherwise specified herein.
14. GOVERNING ADVISORY BOARD OFFICERS
Each of the three Governing Advisory Boards shall annually, at its first fiscal quarter meeting, elect a Chair, a Vice-Chair, and a Secretary/Clerk from among the representatives, who shall perform the duties commonly associated with their titles and as otherwise assigned by vote of the Advisory Board.
Each Party shall cast only one (1) vote for each officer. Officers shall serve no more than three (3) consecutive years in the same office. The Sheriff may not serve as an officer.
Each Governing Advisory Board shall fill vacancies among the officers by election at its next meeting following the occurrence of the vacancy. Officers elected to serve unexpired terms shall serve until the next annual election. Any term so served that exceeds one hundred eighty (180) days shall be counted as one year of service.
Each Advisory Board may, by a simple majority vote of the members, recall any officer at any time and without cause provided the subject officer, the Parties and their representatives are given written notice of the purpose of the meeting not less than ten (10) clear days prior to the posting of the recall meeting notice. Clear days shall not include Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, the day the notice is given or the day of the recall meeting. No other business shall be conducted at a special meeting called for the purpose of recall.
Resignations by officers shall be submitted in writing to the Board.
The Chair of the Board, or in the Chair’s absence the Vice Chair shall preside at all meetings of the Board.
15. RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE SHERIFF
The Sheriff shall house the RECC, its equipment, furnishings and staff at a secure location suitable to the work of the RECC and under the control of the Sheriff.
The Sheriff shall oversee and direct the creation of the RECC as an operational entity, including all matters pertaining to its facilities, furnishings, equipment and operational policies and procedures.
All RECC staff shall be employees of the Sheriff. The Sheriff shall have sole responsibility and authority to oversee, direct, manage and supervise the operations of the RECC, and to hire, set the compensation for, supervise, discipline and terminate all RECC staff, except as herein provided.
The Sheriff shall have a duty to the Parties to preserve and protect the functioning of the RECC at the level of the annual operational plan and budget under all conditions and at all times; provided, however, that the Finance Advisory Board may by vote, or by prior delegation of authority to the Chair, authorize temporary emergency deviations from the plan as warranted.
16. RECORDS AND REPORTS
The Essex County Sheriff and the respective Advisory Boards shall ensure the creation and maintenance of complete records of all meetings, decisions, directives, policies, procedures, operations, financial transactions, and all other records and reports pertinent to the business of the RECC.
There shall be an annual report published annually during the first fiscal quarter that comprises all of the three advisory boards’ work. The report shall describe the operations and finances of the RECC during the prior fiscal year. It shall also include explanations of any changes in the operational plan and operating budget of the prior year, a description of the operational plan and operating budget for the current fiscal year accompanied by a three (3) year projection of changes to both, and a five (5) year projection of capital costs.
The Finance Advisory Board shall provide for and cause a financial audit of the RECC annually, and a management audit of RECC operations at five (5) year intervals, the first occurring during the second fiscal year after the effective date of this agreement. The Sheriff and the Finance Advisory Board, pursuant to state procurement laws and procedure, shall select the auditing firm.
17. RECC DIRECTOR
The Sheriff shall appoint a Director of the RECC subject to veto by vote of the Executive Committee comprised of the Chairs of the three Advisory Boards, provided such action is taken by a unanimous vote of the Executive Committee within ten (10) clear days of written notice by the Sheriff given at a meeting of the Advisory Board. The Sheriff shall provide in such notice, a summary of the qualifications of the subject appointee and an itemized certification that such person has cleared all requisite security and background checks pertinent to the position.
The Director shall be appointed for a three year term, and shall dedicate his full-time effort to managing the RECC and shall, subject to authority granted and duties assigned by the Sheriff, direct, manage and supervise all RECC operations and staff. The Director may be appointed for successor terms. The Director shall attend all meetings of the three Advisory Boards and may participate, but may not vote.
The Director shall not serve as the Sheriff’s representative to the respective Advisory Boards.
The Director shall prepare and present to the Finance Advisory Board an “Annual Operating Plan and Budget” and all proposed amendments to the plan or budget as recommended by the Sheriff. The Director shall provide the Finance Advisory Board with timely and accurate responses to questions and requests for further information regarding the plan and budget, and regarding any other matters put forward by the Sheriff.
18. ANNUAL OPERATING PLAN AND BUDGET
The Finance Advisory Board shall adopt the “Annual Operating Plan and Budget” by majority vote of the Parties at its third fiscal quarter meeting, subject to a publicly noticed hearing concluded not less than thirty (30) days prior to adoption, at which a preliminary vote of the Finance Advisory Board representatives is recorded. A copy of the “Annual Operating Plan and Budget” so adopted shall be provided to the executive authorities of the Parties no later than the first Tuesday in February.
The “Annual Operating Plan and Budget” shall delineate all anticipated revenue and costs, including the number, classifications and compensation of RECC staff, all anticipated non-labor expenses and a list of capital expenditures. The plan and budget shall also include detailed three (3) year projections of revenues and costs, and a five (5) year projection of capital costs.
Material deviations from the plan and budget for reasons of emergencies, or otherwise, shall be reported to the Chair in a timely manner and shall be noted on the public notice of the next convened meeting of the Finance Advisory Board, which shall consider the need to amend the plan and budget.
19. APPORTIONMENT OF COSTS
The Parties shall share all costs of the RECC proportionately.
Initial costs shall be apportioned among the Parties as set forth in the “Start-Up and Operations Transfer Plan And Budget” (Section 22 below). Initial costs apportionment shall be based on the Parties populations as reported in the most recent federal census.
The Finance Advisory Board shall apportion annual operating costs, including any ongoing debt obligations, in the “Annual Operating Plan and Budget”. Annual operating costs apportionment shall be based on a per capita assessment based on population as reported in the most recent federal census.
The Essex County Sheriff shall annually assess on each municipality its proportionate share of the net costs of operating the RECC in accordance with the annual budget approved by the Finance Advisory Board. The Sheriff shall provide estimates of such costs to each municipality on the Cherry Sheet based on estimates for the ensuing fiscal year (July 1) provided to the Department of Revenue by the Sheriff on a schedule determined by said Department. Other non-municipal members may be assessed in accordance with the terms and limits established between that member and the Finance Advisory Board as a condition on admission to membership. For the purpose of assessing member municipalities the net costs so assessed are defined as total operating costs plus amortized cost to capitalize plus reserve for contingencies minus Commonwealth funds plus gifts and grants.
21. PAYMENT OF ASSESSMENTS
Assessments hereunder as to any municipality shall be made and paid pursuant to the Cherry Sheet as approved by the Finance Advisory Board and certified by the Sheriff to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. Any member not subject to said Cherry Sheet shall be liable in contract and, in addition to the assessment due, shall be assessed any legal fees and costs reasonably incurred to collect same. The Finance Advisory Board may terminate delinquent party as a member after notice and hearing.
The Finance Advisory Board shall, within one (1) year of the commencement date of this Agreement, adopt a “Start-Up and Operations Transfer Plan and Budget” for design, development, construction, equipping, staffing and operating the RECC and the orderly transfer of services, personnel, equipment, records and data from the Parties to the RECC. The Start-Up Plan and Budget shall be adopted in the same manner as the Annual Operating Plan and Budget and presented to the Parties for funding.
Any governmental unit not a Party to this Agreement may be admitted to the RECC by a majority vote of the Finance Advisory Board upon the governmental unit’s acceptance of the original Agreement as amended.
Upon such admission, the total of all capital costs not fully depreciated plus the total of any reserve set aside for future capital costs, shall be reapportioned to all then current Parties as apportioned among the original Parties.
Any new Party shall immediately assume liability for its entire share of capital and operating costs cost as determined by this Section. The Finance Advisory Board shall set the initial assessment for future added communities.
Any Party may withdraw from this Agreement after five (5) years following its date of execution by providing two (2) years written notice and after fulfilling all withdrawal requirements delineated herein.
The executive authority of any Party that has presented withdrawal from the RECC to its appropriate local body for action shall immediately notify the Parties of such pending action.
The Finance Advisory board may budget for, and the Sheriff may maintain, insurance coverage to cover liabilities incurred by the RECC.
26. FISCAL YEAR
The fiscal year of the RECC shall be that of a Massachusetts governmental unit.
Subject to prior approval of the Board of Selectmen in a town and the Mayor in a city, the Parties may adopt amendments to this Agreement by approval of the Finance Advisory Board. Amendments adopted by two thirds (2/3) of the Parties shall be binding on all Parties. A Party’s failure to comply with an amendment that becomes binding on all Parties shall be considered in default and subject to the obligations of a Party that fails to fully fund its financial obligation.
Proposed amendments shall be considered and acted upon by the Finance Advisory Board in the same manner and on the same schedule as the “Annual Operating Plan and Budget”.
28. TRAINING, CERTIFICATION AND ACCREDITATION
The intent of training is to bring all personnel up to Association of Public Communications Officials (APCO) (or equivalent) certification prior to beginning operation of the RECC. These include (but are not limited to) APCO Telecommunicator, APCO Fire Dispatch, APCO Police Dispatch, APCO Emergency Medical Dispatch, first aid, CPR/AED and APCO Supervisor (where appropriate), along with any state mandated certifications.
In the organizational stage, all policies and procedures will be created with an eye toward compliance with Commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Association (CALEA) standards. This will allow the RECC to apply for CALEA accreditation within a short period of time after it is on line. Receiving this recognition will allow for a reduction in insurance rates and will lessen the opportunity for frivolous law suits to be filed against the center. This recognition will also increase dramatically the stature the center will have among its peers nationwide.
This Agreement shall dissolve upon the expiration of its term or upon the sum of Parties hereto numbering less than five (5). All Parties at the time of dissolution shall retire all financial obligations of the RECC as if withdrawing.
Continued existence, management and operation of the RECC shall, as provided by then current law, be subject to a successor agreement.
THIS AGREEMENT is made by and between the Sheriff and the Governmental Units signatory hereto, each duly authorized.