The Kennebunk Select Board will host a public hearing Sept. 13 on a proposed contract renewal with Sanford Regional Communications Center for police and fire dispatching services and decide whether to send the proposal to a Nov. 8 town meeting vote. The contract calls for a 19 percent increase in the first year and 4 percent in each of the ensuing two years. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNK – The town’s contract with Sanford for fire and police dispatching services expires June 30. Select board members discussed the next steps at their Aug. 30 meeting that could include exploring other options. 

Still, the board agreed to schedule a public hearing for Sept. 13. They will decide at that meeting whether to send the proposal to the Nov. 8 town meeting. 

A public vote would authorize renewal of the proposed three-year contract. The select board noted the proposal calls for a 19 percent increase in the first year, with 4 percent increases in each of the ensuing two years. 

The first year is pegged at $377,050; $392, 132 in the second year, and $407,817 in the third year. 

Board Chair Shiloh Schulte asked if the 19 percent increase was an effort to increase wages. 

“Sanford is offering incentives,” said Town Manager Michael Pardue. “Everyone is struggling to fill seats.” 


Sanford is currently advertising for dispatchers and is offering $10,000 and $5,000 signing bonuses, depending on qualifications, and a $1,000 bonus to Sanford municipal employees who refer a dispatcher who is hired, advertisements on the Maine Municipal Association Job Bank show.

Sanford Regional Communications Center dispatches for 11 area fire and rescue departments and 13 police agencies, provides services to the York County Emergency Management Agency and is the regional public safety answering point – 911 service – for about a dozen communities.  

“Does it make complete sense to go three years we’ve had recent discussions about what the possibilities looks like,” asked board member Kortney Nedeau. 

Pardue noted there is a six month out-clause and he also pointed out that a one-year contract could be signed without a public vote. 

He said Sanford had wanted a 10-year commitment, but Kennebunk suggested three years was more palatable “as we look at what our other options might be.” 

“And I think it is incumbent we look at other options,” said Pardue. He noted if the voters authorize the contract renewal in November, there would be several months before the current contract expires. 


Board members asked Pardue about the quality of service. 

Pardue said service to the police department has been pronounced good. He said former Fire Chief Jeff Rowe had indicated a few months  prior to his retirement that there was room for improvement, and that the new fire chief, Justin Cooper, has not had time to evaluate.  

“Generally, service is good,” said Pardue, adding Sanford Regional Communications Center Director William Power is always willing to discuss challenging calls. 

Board member Miriam Whitehouse said she had been asked to relay to the board that there have been issues. “There are instances of delays … one where a woman with a heart issue got a busy signal for 20 minutes, that was not OK,” she said. 

Schulte pointed out passage by town meeting authorizes renewal of the contract but does not mean the contract must be renewed. 

Pardue said he believes the town could be in a position to look at other options and said he might be talking with an entity soon to determine if they have the capacity to provide service to Kennebunk. He said there would be nothing firm until the first of the year, which would be after the June vote. 

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