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Regional Efforts Moving in Towns and at Capitol
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At the Avon town hall, after donuts and bagels, elected officials, municipal employees and emergency workers have broken up into small clusters to brainstorm.  They're in the early stages of trying to consolidate dispatch for police, fire and ambulance for the towns of Avon, Simsbury, and Canton. 

Avon Town Manager Phil Schenck has pushing for this for more than a decade. He says consolidating dispatch has proven logistically and politically difficult, but he hopes economics and a small scale will help the cause this time around. 

"It's designed essentially to improve the level of services that we can offer to the community, maybe a reduced cost, but at least a reduced cost going forward."

The three towns are starting small -- by circling up and talking through the potential pitfalls. Peter Sullivan, a former Avon town employee, is volunteering to help the towns through the process.

"We get all the what's on the table, then we can talk through the design. How do we implement the communications? Do we need to combine radio frequencies?"

There are also questions of how to deal with union contracts, where the dispatch center will be based and how to get buy in from town residents.

For now, town officials hope to be ready to launch a regional dispatch center by July of next year.

Meanwhile, at the capitol, a bill to promote more regional cooperation has passed through two legislative committees. It sets up  rules for joint economic development projects, purchasing, collective bargaining, and health care pooling. As an incentive, starting in 2010, towns that enter such agreements could levy a one percent tax on hotel stays or share a small percentage of the sales tax generated in their towns.