The city council has approved a contract to merge the city’s emergency dispatch communications service with the city of Centerville.
West Carrollton was forced to re-evaluate having a dispatch center after the costs to keep one in place continued to increase. The council vote occurred Tuesday night.
The five-year deal includes a first-year base cost of $244,495, according to information the city released Tuesday night. The amount increases by 2 percent in the remaining years (to a cap estimated at $285,000 in the last year of the deal) and will have additional costs for each West Carrollton dispatcher hired by Centerville.
“Merging with Centerville seems to be the option that provides us with the closest level to our current service at no increased costs,” West Carrollton City Manager Brad Townsend said in a prepared statement released after the council meeting. “In addition, Centerville will aim to hire our remaining dispatchers to help make the transition smoother.”
Townsend noted the city will soon have to ask the citizens for financial support to avoid further cuts to make up for the approximately $475,000 lost in the recent state-initiated funding cuts.
West Carrollton police Chief Doug Woodard said, “With this merger, Centerville is projected to receive about $100,000 in 2016-2017 that it would not be able to collect otherwise.”
It has been a challenge to fill the dispatcher positions while the city works on a long-term solution, he said, noting that police officers and department secretaries have had to help staff the dispatch center.
“We’ve always prided ourselves on responding to every call,” Woodard said. “With Centerville, it won’t be any different.”
According to an analyst who has studied similar projects, the transition to Centerville handling West Carrollton’s police and fire calls will be vital to the plan’s success.
“That’s important,” said the analyst, Greg Lawson, of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions. “The biggest thing you don’t want … is there to be massive hiccups that result in something that is a problem.”
Centerville police Chief Bruce Robertson and Woodard said they expect a 90-day transition before West Carrollton calls are handled from Centerville. During those three months, they will address several issues including ensuring a smooth working communications system and integrating call types.
Some quick facts
- Centerville dispatchers answered more than 36,000 calls in 2014.
- West Carrollton averages 25,000 to 30,000 annual calls for police, roughly 2,200 for fire.
- West Carrollton has three dispatchers.
- The merger means Centerville will need four full-time dispatchers.
- Transition issues at the West Carrollton department likely will continue through of this year as the dispatch center is shut down.