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SHIRLEY — Although they didn’t actually vote, selectmen said “no thanks” Monday to the regional public-safety dispatch agreement that three of the five communities originally targeted to join have already signed.

Of the five, Harvard, Lancaster and Devens are already on board and Lunenburg is expected to join the list this week, Shirley Chief Administrative Officer Dave Berry said.

Reasons selectmen cited included uncertainties about costs after the first year and distrust that the state will continue to fund the grants that would make it a good deal.

Public-safety department heads past and present, spoke against it, citing a series of “what ifs” that ranged from chaos at a multi-community dispatch center if too many emergency calls came in at once, to regional dispatchers unfamiliar with town streets, to having no on-site dispatcher at the police station during off hours if a citizen came there for help.

Opponents included Selectman Kendra Dumont and Chairman David Swain; Police Chief Gregory Massak, Fire Chief Dennis Levesque, Ambulance Director Mike Detillion and former police and fire chiefs Enrico Cappucci and Alphee Levesque.

Dumont said she was “leery” of savings characterized as “projections” versus a sure thing, especially in light of the town’s currently precarious finances. “We don’t have the luxury of taking a chance,” she said.

Swain had a number of questions that were never answered, he said, and he was miffed that MassDevelopment Executive Vice President for Devens George Ramirez turned down three separate invitations to attend a selectmen’s meeting to make his case.

Selectman Andy Deveau and Finance Committee Chairman Frank Kolarik favored the proposal.

Kolarik said it only made sense and that savings were virtually assured when several communities pool their resources.

Deveau debunked the notion that the new facility could be compared to a shared set-up in Groton many years ago in which one dispatcher fielded calls from several other towns, including Shirley. “That’s not the same as a fully staffed, state-of-the-art facility” such as the one that will be created at Devens, he said, with $500,000 in state grant money guaranteed the first year and another $800,000 expected next.

The center is expected to save each community at least $100,000. No firm timetable has been set for its construction, though officials say it is at least two years away.

“Regional communications facilities work all over the country and can work here, too,” he said.

But he acknowledged it was a dead issue for now and suggested sending a letter to MassDevelopment, turning down the offer. “I’m hearing that it hasn’t been vetted enough,” he said.

The board authorized Berry to do so.

“I don’t think anybody’s closing the door,” Swain said.