January 7, 2010
Weare Police dump Goffstown Dispatch

GOFFSTOWN – The town of Weare will end its police, fire and EMS dispatch contract with Goffstown effective February 1.

Weare Police Chief Gregory Begin notified Goffstown of the decision in a December 22 letter to Goffstown Police Chief Patrick Sullivan. Beginning in February, Weare will start a new dispatch contract with the town of Bow.

The decision came as a surprise to the Goffstown Board of Selectmen, which made the letter public at its Monday meeting. Board of Selectmen Chairman Scott Gross said Weare should have given Goffstown more notice.

“I don’t have any problem with Weare going to another place for dispatch, but I do have a problem with the courtesy of getting this at such a late hour,” said Gross, who speculated that Weare could save $5,000 by switching to Bow.

“I know that we have provided a tremendous amount of mutual aide, and I think to save $5,000 sends the wrong message to Goffstown,” Gross said.

Gross’ other concern was the loss of revenue from the terminated contract. Goffstown Police Chief Patrick Sullivan said that Goffstown receives roughly $27,000 to provide dispatch services to Weare.

Sullivan also said the letter was not completely unexpected.

“It came as somewhat of a surprise. I won’t say I was knocked off my chair when I got it,” Sullivan said in an interview. “I had heard rumblings.”

In his letter to Sullivan, Begin wrote that two factors had influenced Weare’s decision to terminate its contract with Goffstown. Gross read the letter aloud at Monday’s meeting.

“Bow communications utilizes the same police software as we do, which will make our officers more efficient in their daily duties,” Gross read, quoting Begin. “Secondly, I have been having concerns since the Goffstown Board of Selectmen entered into discussions of eliminating your own communications center.”

Early last fall, the Goffstown Board of Selectmen had entertained the idea of forming a committee to study whether the town should pay Hillsborough County to run its own dispatch services. The idea of forming the committee was eventually tabled, according to Gross.

Selectman Philip D’Avanza said the board should have done more to reassure Weare that the proposed committee would not immediately affect dispatch services.

“Has this Board of Selectmen ever notified the towns that have dispatch agreements with us that we’re doing this?” D’Avanza asked. “Did we ever say, ‘We’re looking at this, don’t be concerned?’ No. It’s just out there for them to be on their own.”

In the coming week, Board of Selectmen will likely send a letter to Weare, asking that the termination be delayed until March. The board may also reach out to reassure New Boston, with whom it also has a dispatch agreement.

On Tuesday, Weare Town Administrator Naomi Bolton did not say whether Weare would hold off until March. Bolton did say that the new contract may save the town some money: Weare budgeted $33,100 for its new contract with Bow, compared to the $36,600 it had typically allocated for its dispatch agreement with Goffstown.

In a Wednesday interview, Chief Begin said that any savings from the switch would be negligible. The real value to the changeover may be to the town’s peace of mind.

“When I only have a one-year dispatch contract and they talk about getting rid of it, I can’t afford to worry,” Begin said. “I need something that’s more definitive.”


Reproduced by the Goffstown Residents Association.


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