Windham will switch to regional emergency dispatching on Monday. Town officials say the change will likely speed up responses to emergencies.

The town’s 911 calls are now answered by Westbrook’s dispatch operation, then routed to dispatchers in Windham.

Town Manager Tony Plante said the change will send calls directly to the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center.

“Having the 911 calls go directly to the county eliminates a step in the process and makes the response time much faster, but I suspect that people will not notice,” Plante said.

The Town Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to approve the three-year agreement with the regional dispatch center. The agreement calls for Windham to spend $98,400 for services this year and $270,050 in 2011. Councilor Carol Waig cast the dissenting vote.

The change, approved by residents at town meeting in June, saved the town $135,000 this fiscal year and could save as much as $225,000 in subsequent years.

One concern was that six dispatchers would lose their jobs, but four agreed to join the regional operation. This week, two dispatchers turned down the offer.

Bill Holmes, director of the regional dispatch center, said he expects a successful transition on Monday.

The change means that the lobby of Windham’s Public Safety Building, which has been open 24 hours a day, will be open only from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Police Chief Richard Lewsen said there will be a phone outside the lobby for emergency calls. “The residents will be just fine,” he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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