Selectmen decide to pursue cost share of study with Berlin

By Kirstan Knowlton

GORHAM — After hearing criticism about the way the study committee for the Police and Dispatch Services Study would be organized, Selectman Patrick Lefebvre proposed a plan to use Municipal Resources Inc. to conduct the study instead.

With the hopes of offering an unbiased approach, Lefebvre presented information to the board of selectmen about using MRI, and potentially splitting those costs with the city of Berlin. The total cost to use Municipal Resources for the project would likely run around $6,000.

“This is a professional organization that has no stake, they want what is supposed to be best,” said Lefebvre.

Since the previous meeting, Lefebvre reported that several residents approached him with concerns about who would be on the study committee and the role of the board. Some residents also expressed specific concerns about the role of the town manger, and police chief in the process, suggesting that they should be used as resources only.

“For me it solves everybody’s discrepancies, period,” said Lefebvre.

Selectman Michael Waddell shared similar concerns about the board’s involvement, citing the lack of knowledge by board members on this topic.

“The technical part of it should be handled by qualified people,” said Waddell.

The board unanimously voted to move forward and contact the Berlin Police Department about splitting the cost of the study through Municipal Resources.

Also in attendance, Gorham Police Chief PJ Cyr shared his opinion about the potential use of Municipal Resources to conduct the study, which he felt was straying from the initial plan.

“We’ve already told people at the town meeting that it would cost zero dollars, and at the outset it was the old board that said it would be in-house; that the chief would meet with the chief of Berlin and put together a proposal,” said Cyr.

It was at that point that Cyr explained that the plan started to change with different configurations for committees being proposed.

“We have gone left, right, up and down, and we have veered away from that the original wording was and the intent of the article.

Cyr reiterated his qualifications to create a proposal, citing the work that went into the relocation of the police department in 2005 to the town hall.

“I know that I can go up there to Pete, and put together a proposal for you all to consider and maybe we can put together three,” said Cyr.

Cyr explained that the proposals could include plans to save anywhere from $250,000 to $350,000, and what police services would like using those numbers as a budget.

“I think we are making it more difficult than it needs to be,” said Cyr.

Cyr also acknowledge that tough decisions will have to be made in order to see significant savings for the taxpayers, but he strongly felt that he could make those decisions in an unbiased way.

Lefebvre stood by his request to use an outside agency; because of the feedback that he has consistently received from residents who felt that Cyr was not right for the task.

The board will wait to hear back from the Berlin Police Department, before moving ahead with the study committee.