Dispatch council in works
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 25 November 2013 10:46
WALBRIDGE - After four years of dispatching discussions, local governments in the northern end of Wood County are being asked for formal approval to keep the process proceeding.
The Walbridge mayor hopes they end up a happy, unified family.
"I just don't want Walbridge to be treated as a stepchild," Ed Kolanko said at Wednesday's council meeting.
Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer said all of the entities - Walbridge, Northwood, Millbury, Rossford and the township - will have an equal seat at the table.
"There's no dictatorship," he told council while giving a presentation on shared dispatching. "This is ideas. We're not dictating what happens."
A Council of Governments would make decisions about the new dispatch center.
There is an urgency, though, to joining together, Hummer said.
If the entities cooperate and have their own dispatch center, they will have a good chance to stake a claim on a Public Safety Answering Point, and to stay ahead of the "new 911 system."
With the PSAPs, it's likely only three 911 answering points will be allowed in Wood County by 2018, Hummer said. There are eight now: Lake Township, Northwood, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, Bowling Green, Fostoria, Bowling Green State University and the Wood County Sheriff's Office.
"It would be very hard for them to pull our PSAP if we are doing what they want us to do," Hummer said of the cooperation.
Entities could opt to pay for a PSAP.
Currently, Lake Township dispatches for itself, Walbridge, Millbury and Rossford. Northwood has its own center.
Another option is for those separate operations to continue. Walbridge could also opt to continue to pay for Lake to run the whole thing.
Costs could be divided up by population or by service calls.
Kolanko said he was concerned about potential costs and not having concrete information.
"How much is this going to cost us? How much is this going to cost the taxpayers?" he asked.
The estimated cost to operate the joint centers in 2014 is $635,000, not including renovations, Hummer said. Estimated renovation costs are $115,000 for the Lake Township site on Lemoyne Road, and $15,000 to $30,000 for the Northwood center.
The current, annual operating costs are $290,871 for Lake Township and $331,423 for Northwood, for a combined $622,294 expense for 2013.
"We're at a neutral cost. You're not seeing savings but you're not seeing any additional costs," Hummer said. "It (costs) should go down over time."
He added that residents will see a higher level of service with more dispatchers on a shift, and a working supervisor.
There will be no reduction in force when the departments are combined, Hummer said.
There is a target transition date of next summer.
Hummer will be talking to representatives in Northwood and Rossford over the next week.
A Local Government Innovation Fund Grant of $87,840 was awarded to the groups for a dispatch study in July 2012.
Also at the meeting, council:
• Heard no employee raises are being considered for 2014. Kolanko said revenues are flat. Bonuses will not be awarded either. He added that employees continue to receive a generous health care package, to which they do not contribute.
• Authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with Sander Farms LLC to rent 73 acres of farm land on Walbridge Road and East Broadway Street that is owned by the village. The land is currently leased, but Kolanko said this new agreement will bring in approximately $6,500 more to the village in revenue. The new contract is for five years and $155 per acre.
• Heard from council president Jan Sawaya, who said the personnel and human resources committee would like to eliminate the business and economic development council committee and split up the streets, buildings, lands and infrastructure committee. The latter group would be divided into the streets committee and buildings, lands and infrastructure committee. Kolanko agreed, saying most economic development issues were handled by the administration. An ordinance will be drawn up for the Dec. 4 council meeting, so the new committees can be formed next year.
• Moved the January council meetings to Jan. 7 and 15 due to the New Year's holiday. Meetings are at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall.