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County looks at dispatch options

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By Robin Bass

The county budget may be balancing, but magistrates are still looking for ways to save taxpayer money while maintaining the services residents have come to expect.

Last Friday, the Emergency Dispatch Services Advisory Committee (comprised of magistrates John Riley and Hobert Judd) met with five representatives from Kentucky State Police (KSP)to discuss options in emergency communication services. Their hope was to informally debate the possibility of KSP taking over the county’s dispatch services and the procedure for obtaining a proposal. Local emergency services that utilize dispatch services were also invited to provide their thoughts and insights about any problems that could arise from 9-1-1 calls being routed to KSP Post 12 in Frankfort.

“We still have more work to do before the committee will be in the position to make a recommendation to Fiscal Court, but I think it would be safe to say that from the information presented at Friday’s meeting, the KSP option is of great interest and is something the committee will be looking into further,” said Riley.

Riley said what impressed him about the KSP option is that the county would be able to benefit from the most up-to-date equipment and a host of highly-trained personnel from dispatchers, administrators and tech support staff.

“We believe we could possibly receive a far more advanced dispatching service that includes Computer Assisted Dispatching technology, Emergency Medical Dispatching and a much more advanced system that could provide far superior officer and public safety technology that is tied directly into the NCIC system information that we currently do not have with our current service,” said Riley.

While no information was provided as to the cost of such a sophisticated service, the county is expecting to spend $133,250 next fiscal year toward the dispatch contract held with Marlene Cranmer. This year’s figure was closer to $122,500. The increase is due to a 2.5 percent raise for Cranmer’s contracted employees.

The City of Taylorsville also stands to be affected by any decision made since they pay the county roughly $2,400 per month for use of dispatch services.

After adding up some numbers of what it would cost the county to hire dispatchers as part of the county workforce, Riley said he had to check with Treasurer Doug Williams to see if he made a mistake.

Riley said that the county could hire one supervisor/dispatch at $11/hour, two full time dispatchers at $9/hour and four part-time dispatchers at $8/hour and the total expense would be about $121,000.

“That shows a substaintial savings to the county if we hire dispatchers,” said Riley.

Judge Executive David Jenkins questioned at Monday’s fiscal court meeting whether the county would be able to hire a workforce at that rate. Riley said that current dispatchers do not even earn that amount, plus any full time employees would be provided benefits – something also not enjoyed by dispatch employees in Spencer County.

There was some discussion at Monday’s fiscal court meeting in reference to when the county could legally break their present dispatch contract. County Attorney Ruth Hollan said she believed the intent of the contract was that it could not be broken until 30 days prior to expiration. Cranmer’s contract is set to expire June 30, 2010.

“That is where we are headed,” said Riley referring to eventually placing the contract out for bid. “It is the taxpayers’ money we are looking at.”

The committee also plans to look into the possibility of reestablishing an Emergency 911 Board.  In the meantime, Riley said the committee will continue working toward a formal recommendation to present to fiscal court.

• Fiscal court approved Monday to have the county’s contracted engineer to inspect a road in River Hill subdivision. Residents are looking into the feasibility of funding road construction that would bring it up to the county’s code.