Formica Responds To Dispatchers’ Protest

EL First Selectmen Says Dispatch Agreement Is Still Months Away

In the past few weeks, to merge Waterford's and East Lyme’s dispatch center. Wayne Meyers, the chief negotiator for the East Lyme dispatch’s union, said East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica “took long-term employees and threw them under the bus.”

In an interview with Patch Friday, Formica responded to that statement and said the agreement is still months away from being finalized. He also said that the three dispatchers in East Lyme should have no problem retaining their jobs in Waterford.

“I expect they would get first choice to the jobs,” Formica said. “We have a very high quality group of dispatchers and I see no problem with them passing the testing (and getting hired).”

The Root of the Issue

, Waterford and East Lyme are looking to merge their dispatch centers. East Lyme would end its dispatch services, and Waterford would hire four more dispatchers and cover both towns.

East Lyme has three full-time dispatchers. Those three dispatchers would have their positions terminated, and then they would have to apply to Waterford to continue to work.

East Lyme’s dispatchers' union argued against that. They want the jobs to be guaranteed, , according to Meyers.

Waterford First Selectman Dan Steward has refused to guarantee those jobs, saying the dispatchers should have to pass Waterford’s employment test for dispatchers. Formica said the dispatchers should have no problem passing the test, as they’ve been dispatchers for years, and expects they will get first priority to be hired.

“I expect they get first right,” Formica said.

Benefit To East Lyme

Formica said East Lyme would save roughly $135,000 by merging with Waterford, because it no longer would have to spend money on part-time dispatchers. Additionally, the town is eligible for more grant money from the state, he said.

However, Formica said it is important that the public safety of East Lyme residents is not compromised with this agreement. He formed a committee of East Lyme fire chiefs and emergency personnel to look into the agreement, and if they deem it will jeopardize the safety of East Lyme residents, Formica said East Lyme will have to adjust the agreement.

“Public safety is not about saving money,” Formica said. “It has to be exactly the same service or better.”

Too Early

Formica also said the agreement is months away from being finalized, and was concerned it was made public so soon. He is still awaiting the results of his committee to see if public safety will be compromised, and has to ensure state grant money is still coming through.

“There is no agreement,” Formica said about the proposed agreement the Waterford Board of Selectmen already approved. "That is just a draft document that we are in discussions about.”

East Lyme would get a $250,000 state grant to do the merger, which the town would need to buy new radios and other technology to be compatible to Waterford’s system, he said. Formica said he would like to watch the state to ensure that money is still coming through, and if not, the agreement might have to be altered.

Formica also said he would not shut down the East Lyme dispatch center if the deal went through, even though it would be empty. It would remain in case there is an emergency, such as another , he said.

But overall, while the specifics are still being worked out, the idea of regionalizing dispatch is a good one, Formica said.

“A singular unit is something we all need to look at,” he said. “It seems to be a natural way to save some money.”

Bill February 13, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The one glowing theme here is supposedly "adjusting the agreement". Which tell's me no matter what the fire chiefs (afraid for their budgets) decide, the agreement will be finalized in coming months. Mr Formica has put the fire chiefs in a real bad position with there membership WHO ARE NOT IN FAVOR OF THIS MERGE. There Offices are elected positions by the membership. Also do not be mislead that supposedly saving of $135,000. That figure will be eaten into in the cross over costs. Like I said reading between the lines it's a done deal. The meeting with fire chiefs has turned into a dog and ponie show. Too too bad.
WJ Rix February 13, 2012 at 08:17 PM
This is how the final head line will read “EL 1st Selectman Paul Formica fires 20 Employees, Town of Waterford to Hire 4 New Employees on EL Citizens Dime” Mr. Formica states several times throughout the article he “expects”. Expecting is not written in stone. Which means he can expect the Grant money to keep coming every year doesn’t mean it will. He also states we will be “eligible” for more grant money, again this does not mean we will receive any. Also he expects that his full-time dispatchers presently employed will be hired by Waterford. Lets be realistic Mr. Formica, you are showing a lot of respect for your counter part in Waterford 1st Selectman Dan Steward when he has shown you and The Town of East Lyme None!
WJ Rix February 13, 2012 at 08:17 PM
The first lack of respect was by releasing the article of the two towns “merging” (out sourcing) dispatch centers before you could notify any of your own Department Heads or Board of Selectman. Second when Mr. Steward stated “The dispatchers who would be laid off from East Lyme can apply for the new positions, but would not be guaranteed a position. While they have experience, if they can’t pass Waterford’s employment test, they won’t be hired”. So the fact that these Dispatchers already do their job, and do it well for East Lyme is irrelevant. These two instances right here says Mr. Steward thinks very little of you and the town you represent. Do you want to know what you can “expect” Mr. Formica, you becoming the lackey to the Waterford First selectman.
The Truth March 03, 2012 at 02:09 AM
It's sad that Mr. Formica is going into this with blinders on. The long term savings will amount to nothing. East Lyme will be paying the Town of Waterford for a dispatching service that they will have no say in at all. Where are all the other throngs of towns that are rushing to merge. Sounds to me like its all right here with Waterford, East Lyme, and New London. This is crazy - Waterford Public Safety can't get any answers to their questions from their dispatch center. What kind of answers will East Lyme get? This whole thing will boil down to " whose sand box is this? Watch your volunteers Mr. Formica - you may be looking for quite a few. The entire Public Safety Community in East Lyme needs to rally against this and make their voices heard. The study is so flawed that I doubt that there will be any grant money at all. Believe me OSET is looking at the study and they know that they were sold a bill of goods that is flawed and not accurate. Mr. Formica is selling out the volunteers in his town - volunteers that are sorely needed. In the public safety world, is a $135,000.00 alot of money? You'll spend more on that on your legal costs before the move is made. Is that a smart fiscal move?
Wayne March 03, 2012 at 07:44 AM
The truth of the matter is that Mr. Steward has been clear that the EL Dispattchers have no right to the jobs. He will be the employer if this circus continues and is clear he won't fold in the EL dispatch folks. The 135K figure was disputed at the last BOS meeting and seemed to include salaries for part time fire marshalls. If this goes through Mr. Morris will lose quite a bit of his responsibilities. There has been no talk of reducing his salary to save money. The fact of the matter is that Morris has mismanaged this entire operation for years. He can't keep part time help and has no respect for those who work for him.
Jeremy March 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM
this sounds like classic corrupt politics, same people being elected allowed to do what they want, any other entities from companies to other towns to even the state, when they merge departments they transfer employees, usually don't make them reapply. this in it's current form is not good for anyone involved. it's a slap in the face to employees of both towns and it shows the arrogance of our "elected" leaders.


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