Petition Aims To Put Dispatch Issue On The Ballot 

As the Bangor City Council moves closer to consolidating the city’s emergency dispatch services a group of citizens is saying not so fast. Let’s put it to a popular vote.The bangor city council has been talking about it since 2003. Now they’re on the verge of moving Bangor’s emergency dispatch service a few miles down the street. To the Penobscot Regional Communications Center where they’ll join Penobscot County regional dispatch. “We have for years paid for dispatch even though we don’t use it,” says City Councilor Gerry Palmer. “So in essence we’re paying for two services and only using one.”But a group of citizens, calling themselves the Bangor Matters Citizens Group, says a move of this magnitude should be decided by the voters. They’ve started a petition to get the issue on a ballot. “What the petition does is it gets it out on the ballot,” says Jim Morrill, Chairman of the Bangor Matters Citizens Group. “Do you want to maintain Bangor’s dispatch center basically how it is now? Yes gets to vote everything stays the same, no continues the consolidation with Penobscot regional.”The city council hopes consolidating dispatch services will lead to cost savings down the road. “I think the first year we’re not going to save a lot of money, the second year we’re not gonna save a lot of money, but I do think the third year we’re gonna be saving $150-$200,000,” says Palmer.They’ll need around 2200 signatures to get this on a ballot. The city clerk’s office says they have less than 450. Morrill says they’ve got more on the way. “Come the 3rd or 4th I’ll be dropping off over 2000 signatures. So those need to be certified prior to deciding whether it’s going to go out to a vote or not.”Palmer says he’s hoping the council can take their final vote on this issue at their meeting later this month, but that’s only if the petition fails. “When people don’t sign it says as much as when they do sign,” says Palmer.At the PRCC they handle 15 police agencies, 40 fire departments, and more than 30 ambulance services. Officials here say if Bangor comes over all their current dispatchers will be welcome. They say they will need some more resources to handle the call volume. “We’ll do it,” says Jim Ryan, Executive Director at the PRCC. “We’ll do it very well and the people I have here are very good at what they do.”