Centerville will begin dispatching West Carrollton’s public safety calls this spring in the first deal of its type for both cities.
The five-year agreement for all West Carrollton police and fire calls to be routed through Centerville’s dispatch center will start May 1, officials said, after both city councils signed off on the deal this week.
“My expectation of service is going to be on the same level as our citizens receive now,” said West Carrollton Police Chief Doug Woodard, who helped negotiate the deal.
“That’s one of the reasons why the city and city council has chosen to proceed with Centerville,” he said. “Their dispatching services are almost a mirror image of what we try to do here.”
The deal calls for West Carrollton to pay Centerville $244,495 the first year, with about a 2 percent increase each year until the last year, when it will cost $281,592, according to the contract.
The contract spells out additional costs for each West Carrollton dispatcher hired by Centerville, with the first year maximum of $10,123 per dispatcher. Centerville will need four full-time dispatchers to handle the increased volume, said Bruce Robertson, that city’s police chief.
There is no guarantee the West Carrollton dispatchers will be hired, but that is the preferred option, Robertson said.
West Carrollton is opting to dissolve its dispatch center after staff shortages, rising costs and losses in tax revenues have made it cost prohibitive for the city to maintain those operations, officials said.
Recent state-initiated cuts resulting in the loss of about $475,000 to city coffers will result in officials soon seeking to put a levy on the ballot to avoid further cuts to other services, according to West Carrollton City Manager Brad Townsend.
Aside from Centerville’s proposal, West Carrollton City Council also considered a plan from the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center and placing a levy on the ballot to keep its dispatch operations.
The city should have opted for the levy, said Patrick Merris, the only West Carrollton council member to vote against the deal.
“I vote my conscious, although I know that Centerville is the right choice between that and regional,” said Merris, noting that he blames Gov. John Kasich and state legislators for taking measures that cut local funding.
But a levy to fund dispatch operations was not the right move, said West Carrollton Mayor Jeff Sanner.
“This is something we’ve talked about and we’ve studied,” he said. “I just don’t see any other way around this. I would much rather have our own dispatch in-house. But financially, with the things that have happened, it’s not possible.”
Centerville will furnish all equipment needed to dispatch services to West Carrollton, which will provide all equipment to receive dispatch services, according to the contract.
Centerville dispatchers answered more than 36,000 calls in 2014, while West Carrollton averages about 25,000 to 30,000 annual calls for the police and about 2,200 for fire, officials have said.
If West Carrollton calls for service increase after the additional dispatchers are hired, Centerville may increase fees, according to the contract.
“We think it’s a great fit,” Robertson said. “Centerville and West Carrollton police provide service to their citizens in a very similar way. And we’re confident that we can provide the service and West Carrollton has confidence that we can do it. That’s not to say it won’t be a challenge and there won’t be a learning curve, but we’re very excited for the opportunity.”
Before the switch over begins, the cities will be in a transition phase during which they will address issues such as verifying response times, ensuring communications system work smoothly, integrating call types and ironing out dispatching hires, Woodard said.
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