February 14, 2014 - The Gardner News:
“Templeton runs a very efficient and very effective dispatch center,” he said. “It’s a dispatch center that’s been used as a model for other centers that are regionalizing.”
Templeton’s dispatch center, which is already regionalized with Phillipston, receives a considerable amount of funding each year through grants, which helps offset the cost of running such an advanced operation. The department averages about $119,000 in regional incentive grants yearly, as well as somewhere between $5,000 and $7,000 in training grants, and an additional $54,000 a year in reimbursement revenue from the town of Phillipston. The fiscal year 2015 budget has the center running at a cost of $210,503, however, after subtracting the grant funding and reimbursements, that number is lowered to $36,896.
“That’s not even the price of one employee for top-notch, A-plus service,” Chief Whitaker said. “I don’t understand why we want to outsource this to another community when we’re bringing in all these recourses.”
I asked the current Chief of police a question concerning dispatch, he appeared to be taken aback when I mentioned that his predecessor said it only costs Templeton Taxpayers around $37,000.00 to run dispatch.
The $37,000.00 operating costs happens to be false and it is a very very bad idea to budget off grants (promissory notes) as Templeton learned with the play ground grant. Training grants are always out there, it is only a question of applying for and receiving them.
The next question is, what of the health insurance and retirement costs to taxpayers, does any of those grants cover those expenses. What about the chief's salary, if he only managed one department rather than two? If you look at past town meeting, you will find that grant money was used to cover dispatch salaries while the appropriated dispatch funds were used to cover other Town expenses. So, is that a bait and switch? What happens if the grant money goes away or is reduced? It also appears to show there was not enough money to cover all expenses in Templeton and/or it was managed poorly. History shows Templeton is still struggling to pay for everything on the spending plan.
I look at what are some of the largest expenses for Templeton, outside of education. It appears to be labor that includes retirement and health. Again, if outsourcing works so well for Phillipston, why would it not work for Templeton?
First, I would suggest asking where that dispatch funding from Phillipston goes? Does it go to the police department or does it go to the general fund? When does Templeton receive it?
Better yet, how about some math?
listed in the FY 2018 spending plan: Dispatch salaries (full time)
five full time employees at - $40,664.00
dispatch holiday pay at 22,637.00
dispatch open shifts 27,562.00
Since holiday pay, training, vacation back fill, sick time back fill, personal leave back fill are combined for police & dispatch, I have simply divided in two the presented amounts;
vacation back fill 36,459.00
sick time back fill 23,620.00
personal leave back fill 10,374.00
unscheduled overtime 10,000.00
compensatory time 17,769.00
dispatch shift differential 8,206.00
The above is from personnel only and does not include employee support (clothing allowance, etc.) purchase of service (cell phones etc.) supplies, expense budget.
As the expenses increase year to year while the grant stays the same and Phillipston's share changes little, those grant items have less and less impact on the bottom line.
I believe the above shows the relevance of Phillipston having fewer full time employees. I believe the above demonstrates it is not being small minded to point these things out.
The above numbers are easily checked as well.