Walbridge eyes savings by using county dispatching PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by By DEBBIE ROGERS Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 29 January 2010 10:09
WALBRIDGE - With a $220,000 hole in this year's budget, changing police dispatch services is one of the cost-savings measures that council is considering.
After last week's meeting, Acting Mayor Maureen Jacobsen said preliminary talks with the Wood County Sheriff's Office show the village could save about $31,000 a year. Walbridge currently contracts with Lake Township for police dispatching for about $63,000 annually; the proposed price from the sheriff is $32,000.
"When information comes to us, that there's a potential to save money, we're going to investigate that," Jacobsen said. "We have a responsibility to the community to be fiscally responsible É but we certainly have not made any decisions."
Councilman Ed Kolanko, chairman of the budget and finance committee, said dispatching was discussed at their meeting Jan. 13. The contract with Lake Township expires March 31.
In the audience comments, former Councilwoman Joann Schiavone said that she was "irritated" by rumors that council was shopping around for another dispatch service. She said local service needs to be considered.
"We are the taxpayers here in the village and it seems to me you're taking more away," she said.
Last February, Schiavone asked council to look into contracting for police service with Lake Township. The village has its own department.
Schiavone said would be a $100,000 annual savings. But Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski, who was not at Wednesday's council meeting, said there would be a $60,000 savings and it wouldn't be worth it to lose the local service.
Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer it would hurt if Walbridge left the three-member dispatching network. The township also dispatches for Rossford.
"It would certainly impact our budget for obvious reasons," he said Friday.
Hummer said he doesn't know how a switch from the township to county dispatching would work exactly. Calls that go to the county dispatching may have to be routed back to the township, causing a delay.
He said Walbridge and the township have a deeper working relationship, than just 911 calls. The township dispatch center also handles village residents' non-emergency calls about street flooding or loose animals.
When Walbridge police arrest a suspect, the booking process is handled at the township department for safety reasons, Hummer said.
"I never blame anyone for looking at options when it comes to saving money, but you have to look at the big picture," he said. "I want to be clear on this, I don't criticize anyone for looking at their options."
The Lake Township Trustees in December approved a new, one-year contract with LifeStar, Toledo, for dispatching. The township is paying $21,060 per month, a 3 percent increase, but decided not to pass any of those increases onto Walbridge and Rossford.
Rossford currently pays $10,185 per month to the township for dispatching and Walbridge pays $5,267.
Lake Township decided to go into the dispatching business in late 2002 after Walbridge, which used to provide the service for the three entities, announced a $2,000-a-month increase. The township footed the initial bill for the dispatch equipment, which was about $100,000.
Walbridge has planned for its $220,000 deficit for 2010 by making cuts, such as closing the pool, eliminating overtime and changing employees' health benefits. Wilczynski is also not taking his $7,200 salary this year.

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