Derry OKs Five-Year Dispatch Contracts with Chester, Auburn

The Derry Town Council has approved new five-year contracts to provide dispatch services to Chester and Auburn.

The Council heard a presentation from Fire Chief Michael Gagnon and Communications Director Jon Goldman at its June 2 meeting. After hearing that the two agreements bring revenue to the Dispatch Department, the Council voted unanimously to approve the contracts.

Gagnon told the Council that Derry has provided fire and EMS (emergency medical services) dispatch services to the two towns for more than 20 years. Both contracts expire June 30, 2015, he said.

Gagnon said Goldman has been negotiating with the two towns and came up with an acceptable five-year contract with 5 percent increases each year.

According to a staff report, Derry receives E-911 calls, dispatches resources from the appropriate department and monitors radio response and communication at the scene.

Gagnon said that Auburn is expected to bring in $42,690 in revenues in FY 16 and Chester is projected to bring in $30,326, for a total of $73,000. With Windham, the third contracted town, the expectation is $167,836 in income, which would offset the Dispatch budget by 27 percent or 73 cents on the dollar, Goldman said.

Gagnon clarified that the service is dispatch only and that with Derry professionals already in the dispatch center, it costs Derry little to provide the service.

“So this is not taking our dispatchers away from service to Derry?” Councilor Mark Osborne asked.

“It blends well,” Gagnon said. “There is no negative impact.”

“It’s a good deal for everybody,” Goldman said.

“What if we vote against the contract? What will happen?” Councilor Joshua Bourdon asked.

Goldman responded, “We don’t have an obligation to them after June 30, 2015.” The Windham contract ends June 30, 2016, he said.

Town Administrator Galen Stearns observed, “If you don’t approve it, you could consider extending the contract so they can find options. But without them, we don’t save a dime.”

With the 5 percent per year increase, services to the three towns are expected to bring in $204,001 in revenue by 2020, according to a chart provided by Goldman.

Osborne asked if there were any changes from the previous contracts and Goldman said the substance is the same. The new contract includes more formalized training and a piece of software that will show onscreen who is responding to an emergency, with volunteer firefighters from the smaller towns letting the system know with their phones or other mobile devices.

“We started negotiating in August of 2014,” Goldman said. When Stearns was appointed in the fall and Gagnon was promoted in February, he sat down with both of them and reviewed the goals of the contracts, then went back to Chester and Auburn to finalize them.

Councilor Richard Tripp asked if there was any cost to Derry for equipment in the other three towns and Goldman said no. “If they need to purchase anything on their end, they pay,” he said. “If we need to purchase anything on our end, we pay.”

Auburn and Chester also have radio boxes for businesses, and Derry charges each of those $300, Goldman said, so that is more revenue.

Goldman wrote in his memo that in order to staff the Communications Center 24/7, Derry would employ the same number of dispatchers to serve Derry alone, so the outside revenues reduce Derry’s dispatch cost by 27 percent.

If other communities signed on for dispatch services, it would bring Derry’s cost down even more, he said.

The Council voted 7-0 to approve the contracts.