Greg Tinsman has been a dispatcher for the Cape Elizabeth Police Department for nearly 18 years and said he can’t believe his tenure with the department could be coming to an end as the town looks for ways to cut spending for next year’s budget.

Town Manager Michael McGovern presented the Town Council with his 2009-2010 budget recommendations last week. One of the proposed ways of dealing with a projected deficit of $500,000 is consolidating the town’s dispatch service with Cumberland County’s.

The move to cut all four dispatchers would save the town $130,000, McGovern said.

Tinsman, who became a Cape police officer in 1973 before becoming a dispatcher, said he understands towns are facing challenging economic times, but he is astounded that his service could be finished.

“You think of all the good you’ve done for the town for 35 years, and now it’s ‘See you later. Good bye,’ ” he said. “It’s tough because this is really not a good time to be searching for a new job.”

In January, nearly 40 Cape Elizabeth residents spoke at a public meeting offering advice to Cape leaders on how to handle the pending budget crisis.

More than half who spoke urged leaders not to cut dispatch.

“We get amazing help from our dispatch service,” said Robert Martin, who spoke at the meeting. “It would be very hard to overcome the value lost if we signed a contract with Cumberland County.”

Earlier this month, the dispatchers went to McGovern and said they would forgo their contractual 4 percent cost-of-living raise next year, Tinsman said. That would save the town about $9,000, he said.

The dispatchers are in the second year of a three-year contract.

McGovern said that he took those factors into consideration before making his final recommendations to the Town Council, but that the decision to cut dispatch needs to be done to save the town money.

“It’s tough,” McGovern said. “But 98 percent of the population of the United States is served by a dispatch center serving a population greater than Cape Elizabeth’s 9,000.”

Tinsman said he doesn’t trust McGovern’s 98 percent figure.

“I really question his figures,” Tinsman said. “I don’t expect a road to be named after me, but I certainly didn’t expect to be let go overnight.”

McGovern’s budget recommendations come at a time when Cape is facing its worse budget crisis in nearly 30 years, he said.

The budget proposal for this year is $8.5 million, down from $8.8 million last year, a drop of about 3.1 percent.

In addition to cutting dispatch, McGovern is also recommending cutting the facilities manager from full time to part time, saving about $45,000 per year.

“I feel bad for the employees,” McGovern said.

McGovern projects town revenues will decline $300,000 from sources other than property taxes.

He expects excise taxes from registered motor vehicles to decline $170,000, state revenue sharing to drop nearly $71,000, investment income to drop by $40,000 and building permit fees by $22,000.

McGovern has also recommended getting rid of 100 street lights, saving the town $9,200; eliminating heavy item pickup in the fall, saving $18,000, and doing away with Family Fun Day, saving about $7,500.

McGovern is also proposing decreasing the tax rate 2 cents from $17.44 per $1,000 of valuation to $17.42. That equates to a decrease of about half a percent.

The Town Council will formally begin budget discussions March 19 with follow-up meetings scheduled for March 23 and 26.

The School Board is expected to submit its budget in the next few weeks, McGovern said.

A public hearing on all budgets is scheduled for April 13. The Town Council will adopt its budget on April 30. The school budget faces a town vote May 12.

McGovern’s recommendations are not set in stone, he said.

“The council can still make changes,” he said. “We’ve been very open for a while at what we’re looking at. There aren’t sudden surprises.”

Greg Tinsman is one of four Cape Elizabeth Police dispatchers that could lose their jobs as Town Manager Michael McGovern proposes to cut the dispatch unit from the townGreg Tinsman is one of four Cape Elizabeth Police dispatchers that could lose their jobs as Town Manager Michael McGovern proposes to cut the dispatch unit from the townGreg Tinsman is one of four Cape Elizabeth Police dispatchers that could lose their jobs as Town Manager Michael McGovern proposes to cut the dispatch unit from the townGreg Tinsman is one of four Cape Elizabeth Police dispatchers that could lose their jobs as Town Manager Michael McGovern proposes to cut the dispatch unit from the town


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