Knox County Commissioners sign 911 call center contract with Waldo County

Mon, 08/21/2023 - 2:00pm

    With appreciation, the three Knox County Commissioners have signed a contract with Waldo County to pay the latter to receive and provide direct response to all 911 emergency calls originating from Knox County from today, Aug. 21, through February 29, 2024, unless on otherwise agreed upon terms.

    The cost to Knox County will initially be in the form of a lump-sum payment of $142,000, and then another initial payment of $12,350, both payments reflecting different clauses in the contract (see attached PDF for the full contract).

    Convening in a special meeting this morning at 10 a.m. at the Knox County Courthouse county meeting room, the Knox County Commissioners tended to this one piece of business in a matter of 16 minutes. But it was a determinant that followed more than a week of turmoil after acknowledging that the Knox County Regional Communications Center, a 911 call center for the 18 municipalities and islands that comprise Knox County, needed rebuilding. 

    The Commissioners said Aug. 21 that the process would be deliberate and speed would not be the priority. Instead, the focus of the next six months will be understanding better what went wrong, why so many of the 13 operators resigned, and examine how to rebuild a better 911 communications center.

    “We all know this isn’t working,” said Commissioner Ed Glaser, Monday morning.

    He said the county is considering the engagement of a consultant to conduct a workplace audit, “and give us suggestion for things that might work differently.”

    Glaser added that the commissioners want to meet with first responders and town managers across the county.

    “Until we change the governance of KRCC, people won’t want to work with us,” said Glaser.

    As of Aug. 21, staff at Waldo County Regional Communications Center will begin answering 911 calls made by those in Knox County, and then will relay notifications to staff at Knox Regional Communications Center (KRCC) in Rockland. The Knox operators, in turn, will dispatch fire, police and EMS to people calling for help.

    Glaser said Aug. 21 that the transition will begin today and go slowly in order to test the system.

    Meanwhile, the county has rehired a former KRCC employee, and is in negotiations with others. The goal, however, to rebuild the 911 center carefully and without rushing, the commissioners agreed.

    “We all want to bring it back in house, but don’t want to set up for failure,” said Glaser.

    The negotiated wage ranges for new hires have not yet been made public.

    The contract states that Knox County agrees to reimburse Waldo for the actual cost of the additional full time employees. Also, Waldo may negotiate with its employees (and any applicable collective bargaining agent for those employees) a stipend for the WRCC employees, when assigned to handle 911 emergency calls. Knox agrees to reimburse Waldo for this stipend in an amount not to exceed the equivalent of $5 per hour for such employees.

    And, both counties agreed on a non-interference, meaning “neither shall attempt to recruit, encourage, coerce, or otherwise entice employees of the other to leave employment with one party and enter employment of the other, or to otherwise interfere with existing employment relationships.”

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657