ELLSWORTH — Beginning next year, all municipalities in Hancock County will pay for dispatch services at the county’s Regional Communications Center (RCC), whether they use them or not.
County officials plan to implement a major change in the way the RCC is funded that could greatly increase the volume at the center.
The county commissioners are scheduled to meet Thursday morning, May 12, with architects from Lewis & Malm Architecture of Bucksport to launch a study that will determine the extent of either a renovation or building project that is needed to handle the potential volume.
Based on the ground floor of the courthouse in Ellsworth, the RCC serves as a public safety answering point (PSAP) for the entire county. All emergency 911 calls made in Maine are answered at a PSAP.
The RCC also dispatches emergency services to most municipalities in the county, but not all of them.
Towns that use the dispatch services provided by the RCC pay for the services in addition to the county tax each municipality pays.
That will change in 2012 when the cost to run the RCC, currently about $642,000 a year, will be entirely borne by county taxes.
Currently, the city of Ellsworth and the towns of Bucksport, Bar Harbor, Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor maintain their own dispatch centers and neither use nor pay for dispatch service from the RCC.
Over the years, the county has urged those municipalities to use the RCC for dispatch service. Those efforts were accelerated last year, after efforts by the state to reduce the number of PSAPs in Maine threatened the center in Ellsworth.