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Finance committee to recommend $4.1 million in capital spending  

They also approved an article for $278,000 earmarked for special counsel fees for the next fiscal year, the majority of which is associated with wind turbine litigation projected to cost $175,000. The remainder is for labor counsel and negotiations.

Credit:  CARRIE L. GENTILE | The Enterprise | October 24, 2014 | www.capenews.net ~~

Decisions involving millions of dollars for capital spending await voters at Falmouth’s November Town Meeting, following the finance committee’s recent approval of next fiscal year’s 4.1 million capital improvement plan.

Committee members approved the largest item of $755,000 for consolidated dispatch equipment. However, the $250,000 line item to make improvements to a new central dispatch center at a to-be-determined location failed to gain support. The committee instead voted to recommend $50,000 for a feasibility study to determine where the new facility should be housed.

The purchase of new dispatch equipment is needed regardless of consolidation, said finance director Jennifer Petit, stating the dispatch radios date back to 1996. The police chief asked for funds last year for new radios and received a partial appropriation of $250,000 toward that purchase.

“I love the idea of a combined dispatch center, but I don’t like that we don’t know where it’s going. It feels rushed,” said vice chairman Nicholas S. Lowell. “Until we have a building, how do we know final cost,” he asked.

Committee member Susan P. Smith shared his position, saying the town could incur future building costs, depending on which site is chosen. She also asked if they considered that a large generator is needed, in case power goes out.

“I think we need more answers,” she said.

The new center would be home to a fire, police, marine and environmental services and public works dispatch and call center. Town manager Julian M. Suso called it a “24/7 communications center.” The unified dispatch would be staffed with at least two personnel at all times. The town is in the middle of a management study that will provide more details on the project’s cost savings, Mr. Suso said.

Ms. Petit said the center would be placed in an existing public facility that could accommodate the four dispatch stations and related equipment. The town is eyeing space in the Gus Canty Community Center and the Edward Marks Jr. building, she said.

The town is undergoing union negotiations to move forward with the consolidation.

“We’ll know if we are moving forward with this by early next year,” she said.

Chairman Judith P. Magnani said the negotiations are a work in progress, but the outcome would be a cost savings to the town.

“It’s going to be more efficient. We are going to save money on overtime in the fire and police budgets, but we don’t know how much yet,” she said.

They also approved an article for $278,000 earmarked for special counsel fees for the next fiscal year, the majority of which is associated with wind turbine litigation projected to cost $175,000. The remainder is for labor counsel and negotiations.

Committee member Charles E. Eastman Jr. said he spoke with town counsel Frank K. Duffy Jr. who “indicated the disciplinary police issues will be costly.”

When the committee asked Mr. Eastman to clarify further, he said that is the only information he was given, based on the confidential nature of the case.

Ms. Smith, however, said it pertains to the four Falmouth police officers currently on paid administrative leave, stemming from an incident in July.

The committee approved spending $675,000 to purchase a new fire engine that would be placed at the East Falmouth Fire Station. Mr. Lowell and Mr. Eastman voted against the measure.

“It’s desperately needed,” Ms. Petit said. It would replace an engine purchased in 1986.

Mr. Lowell said after conducting some research, he found there can be a cost savings if the town purchases a 10-year-old, slightly used engine at a significantly reduced price.

“I would be concerned about purchasing someone else’s problem,” committee member Wendy Vogel said.

Mr. Lowell said often towns, like Detroit, are shedding engines when they downsize.

Committee member Paul Sellers suggested approving this engine purchase, and to consider the used option in the future.

If approved at Town Meeting, a 63,000 square-foot portion of the Morse Pond School roof will be recoated to mitigate leaks. The $300,000 repair comes with a 20-year warranty, Ms. Petit said.

They approved upgrading the board of selectmen meeting room at Falmouth Town Hall, including technological improvements and new furniture, which will cost $42,000. That project would be funded by Comcast and NStar in an agreement that exchanges improvements to town infrastructure for an easement for the companies’ completed work on Mill Road.

They also approved $60,000 to spend on beginning to upgrade the town’s computer system.

Source:  CARRIE L. GENTILE | The Enterprise | October 24, 2014 | www.capenews.net

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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