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Wednesday, August 12 News

After years in the works, Fairfield RTM approves joint dispatch center with Westport

FAIRFIELD — The final hurtle for a joint dispatch center with Westport was cleared when the Representative Town Meeting approved the agreement between the two towns.

In a Monday night teleconference meeting, the RTM approved the plans unanimously and without discussion. The Fairfield County Dispatch Interlocal Agreement is an accord between Fairfield, Westport and Sacred Hearst University.

Once signed by First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick, the two towns will share the load of 911, police, fire and emergency medical services calls.

The planned location of the center is the 2,900-square-foot first floor of the former General Electric building on Park Avenue, now owned by Sacred Heart.

A 25-year lease stipulates the towns would pay a symbolic $1 a year rent as part of the partnership, with each town contributing 50 cents. The plan has been in the works since 2018, when the towns shared the $80,000 cost of hiring a consultant to create a study on how the joint dispatch center would operate and whether it would be cost effective.

Fairfield’s RTM approved $2.8 million in a bond resolution for the project’s funding in 2019.

Fairfield will operate the center and pay 67 percent of the operational costs, while Westport will pay 33 percent, which is based on population and call volume. The division of operational expenses will also be periodically adjusted.

Three weeks ago, the Fairfield Board of Selectmen and the Westport RTM approved the agreement. Fairfield Deputy Police Chief Donald Smith told his board the agreement allows the two municipalities to become partners in the venture.

In response to questions from Fairfield Selectman Tom Flynn, town attorney Jim Baldwin said he was satisfied with both the budget process and the legal language in the agreement.

At the Westport RTM meeting, Fire Department Chief Robert Yost said the agreement would save the town money and increase the efficiency with which 911 calls are processed. He said other towns may join in on the agreement

“We’ve already had interest from other towns, but the goal is we’re going to start it, we’re going to get it up and running, and then we’ll entertain other municipalities coming in and then we will see the reduction in our share of the costs,” he said. “It’s a pretty exciting time. It’s got a lot of attention, and we’re very excited to start construction.”

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