Lake dispatch plan progresses
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 11:21
MILLBURY - The process of combining the Lake Township and Northwood dispatch centers continues, with a target transition date of next summer.
"We've been working on this for quite sometime," said Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer in a presentation to the Lake Township Trustees at Tuesday's meeting.
Hummer will be talking to representatives in Walbridge, Northwood and Rossford over the next week. Millbury is also involved.
Hummer said that the police and fire departments in the areas are already working together. This is just another step in cooperation.
"Mutual aid is a daily occurrence now. Fire and police are crossing jurisdictions all the time," he said. "When we need them, such as Sunday night (when tornadoes touched down in the area), we need help immediately."
Officials from all five entities began meeting in 2009 to talk about merging dispatch centers, Hummer said. Currently, Lake Township dispatches for itself, Walbridge, Millbury and Rossford. Northwood has its own department.
The move to consolidate is partially to save money, but mostly to try to stake a claim on a Public Safety Answering Point, and to stay ahead of the "new 9-1-1 system."
With the PSAPs, it's likely only three 9-1-1 answering points will be allowed in Wood County by 2018, Hummer said. There are eight now: Lake Township, Northwood, Perrysburg, Perrysburg Township, Bowling Green, Bowling Green State University and the Wood County Sheriff's Office.
Hopefully, he said, if the cooperation between the northern entities is shown, they will keep a PSAP. Entities could opt to pay for a PSAP.
The "Next Generation 9-1-1" will have the ability to take calls from a range of digital media, including voice, text, photos, video and data and connect multiple networks.
"It will be a better 9-1-1 system," Hummer said.
But it will also be expensive, leading to the reduction of the PSAPs.
The local, estimated cost to operate the joint centers in 2014 is $635,000, not including renovations. 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.
There will be no reduction in force when the departments are combined, Hummer said.
"We're not going to tell you, you're going to save a bunch of money right away. You will over time."
The benefits include an increase in the number of staff on duty, which will be a consistent two or three dispatchers, plus a supervisor.
A Local Government Innovation Fund Grant of $87,840 was awarded to the groups for a dispatch study in July 2012.
Northwood Administrator Bob Anderson said the discussions over the last few years have led him to believe that the entities could even share equipment, such as fire ladder trucks, in the future.