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Baldelli-Hunt Assessing Fire, Police Dispatch Consolidation

Woonsocket City Hall. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
Woonsocket City Hall. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
A plan to consolidate Woonsocket's Police and Fire Department dispatch units, negotiated with firefighters in 2011 and built into the Budget Commission's 5-Year-Plan, is under review by Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt.

Baldelli-Hunt said during Monday night's Budget Commission meeting that she has toured the Woonsocket Fire Department to assess the consolidation plan, and will tour the Woonsocket Police Department as well to familiarize herself with how the consolidation would work. 

According to a March-April report from the Valley Breeze, consolidating the two dispatch systems is intended to save the city $540,000.

John Ward, former council president and former Budget Commission member, said the consolidation was part of the firefighters' contract negotiation years ago, prior to the Budget Commission's appointment in Woonsocket. He said that while the Budget Commission never voted on the consolidation, the savings from it were built into the Commission's 5-year plan.

Ward said implementing the consolidation was complicated and delayed by the need for specialized equipment.

Baldelli-Hunt spoke about her review of the consolidation, previously under the management of Mayor Leo Fontaine, after Budget Commission member Peder Schaefer asked about the status point-blank. "What's going on?" he said.

Baldelli-Hunt said she had toured the fire department and intended to tour the police department to familiarize herself with the dispatch system. "We're trying to resolve this so we can go forward," Baldelli-Hunt said, working with Acting Fire Chief Tim Walsh, Police Chief Thomas Carey and Public Safety Director Eugene Jallette. 

Schaefer questioned the need for a review, indicating the decision to consolidate appeared to have been long-settled. "We're basically starting from scratch," Baldelli-Hunt said.

Budget Commission members were surprised when Baldelli-Hunt next mentioned that injured firefighters were working dispatch in lieu of their regular duties. "It had never been disclosed to us, by the chief (former Fire Chief Gary Lataille), by the mayor (Former Mayor Leo Fontaine), that they were using injured fire personnel on dispatch," Schaefer said.

Cumberland Fire Chief Kenneth Finlay, former WFD Chief and a 32-year member of the department before retiring to go to Cumberland in 2009, said using injured personnel on dispatch as a light-duty assignment is not remarkable. The only catch was that a doctor had to sign off that an injured firefighter was fit enough to climb the stairs to the dispatch room.  "We have done that for a long time," Finlay said.  
what's fair January 28, 2014 at 08:22 PM
Who is this guy finlay....oh yea, him..him
what's fair January 28, 2014 at 08:24 PM
oh yea according to the former fire chief you don't retire until your 67 years old....that means he quit
My thoughts January 28, 2014 at 10:34 PM
Why can't the City just hire fire civilian dispatchers to work at the fire stations, forget about combining police & fire, and save the City tons of money. Doesn't that make cost saving sense? Why make it difficult. Let's save taxpayers money !!
Uncle Ben January 29, 2014 at 07:51 AM
Because Woonsocket is not in a position to save anybody money, they need Tax payers to step up to the plate and foot the bills they can't afford to pay. They can't even afford to empty trash bins, I've seen trash on Social st for almost 2 weeks now. I've also seen City workers standing around watching each other doing 5 minute intervals of work. Also the Police detail work is absurd, they do nothing but sit in their cars and watch utility companies work their fanny's off. Has anyone been up to Walnut hill plaza lately ? Its almost a ghost town. The city needs to get on the Move they promised us Tax payers. People are not only leaving the City but their bringing their businesses with them. Which only means that someone has to bear the Taxes the City is losing from them doing so. Pretty soon Woonsocket will be a town and not a City. It should already be, this is not a City anymore.
Common Sense January 29, 2014 at 08:07 AM
Follow them out if you don't like it that much...I didn't see an "Uncle Ben" on the ballot for any office. My thoughts: not a bad idea but if you totally dissolve the fire dispatch and move police/fire to one location you are able to do both jobs with less personnel, about 4-5 on duty down to 3...big savings down the road.
Glen M January 29, 2014 at 08:37 AM
Does anyone see a bigger problem? There is a split level house for sale in the city and priced at around $260,000. That's fine but the taxes where an outrageous $9800 a year. Who in their right mind would buy these houses and pay into such a ridiculous tax rate to live in Woonsocket? You could buy in Bellingham for a little bit more for the house and the taxes!!! $4400. The city has crushed the real estate market and it shows as it empties out. No one should pay such horrible rates to live in Woonsocket.
Common Sense January 29, 2014 at 09:01 AM
GlenM, I don't believe you. post the article that displays this please. A 260 house should run you around 4-5,000. The problem is that Susan spoiled us by not raising 1% or so every other year because of homestead and state and federal funding
Nelson Aldrich January 29, 2014 at 10:34 AM
CS wrong again.....she failed miserably at cutting spending.
Common Sense January 29, 2014 at 10:49 AM
She didn't need to because she used state and federal dollars to pay the bills...that's what got her re - elected every year. She took care of her friends and supporters and is now laughing her butt off at you fools...I am a taxpayer as well but the answer is not ALWAYS cut spending.
Art Sylvestre January 29, 2014 at 10:56 AM
Common sense. My house is vauleed at $180,000 and my tax bill was $5400
Uncle Ben January 29, 2014 at 11:26 AM
Common Sense if you had any, then the name would suit you. I Am not here to impress you and you not me, so there will be no explaining why you didn't see Uncle Ben on any ballot. I just know what I say is more accurate than what I see you say. Either your part of the problem and don't like someone bashing where its needed or your just a dummy loving the bills you receive yearly. This City is going to Crap and only the Pigs enjoy that atmosphere.
Common Sense January 29, 2014 at 11:35 AM
Just saw a beautiful house on Dana St..154,000 taxes in 2013 were $3,232. Hmmm
Common Sense January 29, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Maybe if we all bought properties we could actually afford?
Still Hope January 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM
That property is listed for sale at $154k. It is assessed at $136k. Assessed tax is $4700. Actual tax liability includes Homestead and Veterans exemptions, dropping it to $3200.
jack January 29, 2014 at 12:07 PM
Expect to see a higher tax rate after this years revaluation.
Nelson Aldrich January 29, 2014 at 12:15 PM
The biggest time bomb is the compounding effects of the supplemental in any tax increase and the complete phase out of the Homestead Exemption (2017 for multi-family, 2024 or 2027? for single family). Without growth, Woonsocket will enter Chapter 9 as the tax base erodes.
jack January 29, 2014 at 04:14 PM
Good Luck ROB-THANKS

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