Towns choose researcher for emergency services study
By Patrick McArdle
Staff Writer | July 18,2014
MANCHESTER — A New Hampshire firm has been chosen to study whether Manchester and Dorset should merge their emergency services.
At separate meetings, the select boards in Manchester and Dorset voted to award the $28,500 contract to Municipal Resources Inc. of Meredith, N.H.
Manchester Town Manager John O’Keefe said MRI was recommended by a study committee formed earlier this year to consider the merger.
Seven firms responded to a request for proposals in April. O’Keefe said the submission from MRI stood out.
“The (merger) committee unanimously and overwhelmingly thought that MRI would be the right pick,” he said.
Dorset Town Manager Rob Gaiotti said the committee’s members were pleased that MRI sent their principal, Don Jutton, to speak to them about their proposal.
“I think there was a clear demonstration of knowledge, skills and abilities specific to New England and Vermont,” he said.
O’Keefe said MRI and Jutton had worked with St. Albans and small towns in Maine that developed a plan to share services. He said it was important that MRI has done a lot of work with small towns.
“The other firms could have done a really good job,” O’Keefe said. “I don’t think they had the same niche, which was small New England towns … MRI, everyone felt, was the best fit for us and would have the best chance of understanding the complexities of our particular situation that exists between Dorset and Manchester.”
Manchester has a volunteer fire department, a rescue squad and a police department. Dorset has two volunteer fire departments but no rescue squad, and the town contracts with Vermont State Police.
MRI’s study is expected to provide information to the towns about the benefits and drawbacks of merging some or all of their emergency services.
Neither town has made a commitment beyond pursuing the study to get more information. Voters approved an appropriation in each town to pay for the study.
Now that the leaders of both towns have agreed with the public safety merger committee’s recommendation, the contract will next have to be awarded to MRI, O’Keefe said. After that, the committee will probably be less active and meet for updates while the study is in progress.
Gaiotti said the committee — which includes him and O’Keefe, members of the town’s emergency services and residents — will likely be a good resource for MRI.
The report is expected to be completed by November and presented to the two select boards.
O’Keefe said the process had already been good for both towns because people are learning more about their public safety organizations.