Agreement reached on Phillipston/Templeton regional dispatch

Phillipston Selectboard Chair Bernie Malouin (left) and Vice Chair Gerhard Fandreyer discuss the intermunicipal agreement with Templeton to continue operation of a regional dispatch center.

Phillipston Selectboard Chair Bernie Malouin (left) and Vice Chair Gerhard Fandreyer discuss the intermunicipal agreement with Templeton to continue operation of a regional dispatch center. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 01-28-2024 5:00 PM

PHILLIPSTON – The Selectboard voted Wednesday to approve a new intermunicipal public safety agreement with Templeton.

This three-year agreement entails Templeton providing police and fire dispatch services for both communities. Templeton’s five-member Selectboard also gave the agreement its unanimous backing Wednesday night.

The previous agreement called for Templeton to bill Phillipston annually based on the number of calls received from Phillipston. The most recent bill amounted to just over $77,000. Instead of being charged on a per-call basis, Phillipston will now pay $50,000 every fiscal year over the length of the agreement.

The contract also includes a provision for Phillipston to “establish an equipment budget…in the amount of $5,000 annually for the purpose of purchasing communication-related equipment.

It was the previous payment arrangement that prompted Phillipston’s Selectboard to consider terminating the agreement with an eye toward setting up a regional dispatch service with Athol. However, Joseph Crean, director of special projects for the State 911 said, “it is in Phillipston’s best interest to remain in the Templeton RECC (Regional Emergency Communications Center).”

Crean informed the Phillipston board that “projects involving Athol will not be considered by this department at this time. It is critical to understand that the department will not support or consider any regional 911 project involving Athol due to their ineligibility to receive any department grant funding until fiscal year 2028.”

In December, Phillipston Selectboard member Gerhard Fandreyer expressed frustration, saying Templeton had not been forthcoming in letting Phillipston officials know how dispatch monies were being spent. On Wednesday, however, he said the agreement addresses those concerns, adding “they did a very good job at reducing” Phillipston’s costs.

“They’re knocking more than $20,000 right off the top,” said Selectboard Chair Bernie Malouin. “So, they don’t have to do all of the paperwork necessary to separate out what call came from where. It makes it easier for all of us.

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“By signing this, we still have the opportunity to go with Athol, but not for four years. So, this gets by. That’s why we did the three-years with the option for a one-year extension – and we’ll see how it works.”

Malouin added that Phillipston’s fire and police departments are supportive of maintaining their relationship with Templeton dispatch.

Templeton Town Administrator Adam Lamontagne said on Thursday that the town’s Selectboard Chair Michael Currie would be signing the agreement soon.

Asked if any members of the Selectboard expressed concerns about the reduction in revenues to be collected from Phillipston, Lamontagne said, “We were very happy to stay with Phillipston. We went through the concerns that Phillipston had, and we were able to come to an agreement.”

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.