Pratt said some police and fire chiefs are now willing to accept the onetime fee and are willing to explain the proposal to their town boards.
With the majority of the project to be grant funded, the most a town would be asked to pay is $5,000 to $6,000, Pratt said. Larger communities with their own dispatch centers would not have to pay at all, including Derry, she said.
“I think everyone realizes this is a good thing and a necessary thing, and fully support the project,” Pratt said. “The question is how to pay for it.”
But Weyler and Major said they think state lawmakers were left out of the planning process. Major, chairman of the county’s legislative delegation, appointed his own study panel, which is led by Weyler.
“It was concerning to us that we hadn’t been involved,” Weyler said.
Weyler has compiled a report he will present to his committee this week. They believe commissioners do not have the right to assess towns any type of fee to upgrade the dispatch center, he said.
“Some members of my committee say this is a tax and the commissioners don’t have taxing authority, but the delegation does,” Weyler said.
Commissioner Kevin Coyle of Derry disagrees. He said although the annual fee has been ruled out this year, the proposal could resurface next year.
“It’s ridiculous to say that we don’t have the authority,” Coyle said. “We’re trying to do something to benefit the towns and if they’re not willing to kick in, too bad.”