June 3, 2009 Salem News Article

Mayor Scanlon is backing regional dispatch center

By Paul Leighton
Staff writer

June 03, 2009 05:45 am

BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon said the city can save $300,000 per year by joining the proposed regional emergency dispatch center.

In a letter to the City Council this week, Scanlon said the city would save money by using civilians, rather than uniformed police officers, as dispatchers.

"We can, through attrition, take advantage of the lower cost of civilian dispatchers without laying off police officers," Scanlon wrote. "We are confident that there are significant savings to be enjoyed in an amount in the order of $300,000."

The dispatch center would be built in Middleton and would coordinate dispatching for 13 communities in Essex County. Each community must approve joining the center. The state has approved a $6.8 million grant to build it.

Scanlon asked the City Council to adopt a resolution approving the concept. He included a letter signed by 16 municipal officials in favor of the regional center, including Mayors Kim Driscoll of Salem, Michael Bonfanti of Peabody and Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester.

Beverly currently has two separate dispatch systems, one for police and one for fire.

"The time is now," Scanlon wrote in his letter. "The opportunity for effective regionalization is here."

Scanlon said state Public Safety Secretary Kevin Burke has offered to speak to the City Council about the dispatch center before the council votes. The council is scheduled to discuss the issue at its Legal Affairs Committee meeting on Monday night at City Hall.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at pleighton@salemnews.com.

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