From the Bangor Daily News: Maine plans to reduce the number of public-safety answering points throughout the state.

The legislature asked the Public Utilities Commission last year to craft a plan by Nov. 1 to reduce the 26 PSAPs to 15 to 17. The comment period on the matter ended Monday.

While the consolidation is being pitched as a cost-saving measure, critics say that consolidation likely would become an added cost to the taxpayers, who would have to continue to fund county dispatch services, while those communities with fire and police departments would have to contract with the PSAP handling those calls.

Maine taxpayers pay a 911 surcharge on their telephone bills, but some of those funds were used to balance the state budget.

The commission will issue a proposed PSAP consolidation plan next month. Once the plan is released, there will be a public comment period before an edited proposed plan is submitted to the Legislature’s Utilities and Energy Committee by Nov. 1 for its consideration during the coming legislative session.