Commissioners approve dispatcher contract

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FARMINGTON – Commissioners have approved a three-year contract with the bargaining unit representing the dispatchers at Franklin County Regional Communications Center, providing wage increases and changing how employees accrue vacation time.

Commissioners Terry Brann of Wilton and Charlie Webster of Farmington approved signing the contract with Teamsters Local 340, representing the dispatchers, at Tuesday’s meeting. The contract is retroactive from July 1, 2019 and runs until June 30, 2022.

The contract includes a $1 per hour wage increase in the first year and increases of 3 percent for each of the next two years. It also changes how employees accrue vacation time, preventing them from carrying time over from year to year. This is designed to prevent longtime employees from retiring with a significant amount of accrued time, potentially representing hundreds of thousands of dollars in unfunded liability for the county. Along a similar vein, the new contract eliminates vested sick time.

The contract also allows for dispatch supervisors to issue minor disciplinary actions with the approval of the manager at the dispatch center. As the supervisors are represented by the same union as the other dispatchers, this wasn’t possible under the terms of the old contract, County Clerk Julia Magoon said.

In other business, commissioners approved accepting $15,524 in federal funds through Operation Stonegarden, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program that focuses on supporting law enforcement near the country’s borders. Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. David Rackliffe told commissioners that the grant would fund the installation of 10 in-vehicle, mobile modems in FCSO cruisers, providing each with a dedicated data terminal. That is preferable to the current method – hot-spotting phones – as modems are more reliable, allow for the location of the cruisers to be tracked by FCSO and let law enforcement to access their computer and phone simultaneously.

The cost of the equipment is $13,640, leaving the FCSO with roughly $2,000 to install the modems.

Rackliffe also reported that Justice, a 10-year-old K-9 working for the FCSO, will be retired. Rackliffe, who owns the Von Woden K-9 kennel in Weld, donated another dog to the county. That dog is roughly halfway through patrol training, Rackliffe said.

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