Commissioner Karas pens letter to County Citizens about 911 Update.
To the Citizens of Richardson County (911 Update),
The County Board would like to clear up any confusion or misunderstandings regarding the move from Richardson County Dispatch services to the Southeast Communications 911 Center located in Beatrice as well as dispel any myths about the loss of jobs within the Sheriff’s Office. Dispatchers will be assigned different duties but the Sheriff’s Office will maintain the same number of employees.
To clarify, the city does not currently dispatch the Sheriff’s Office. The City only dispatches non-law enforcement agencies, such as emergency services, within the county and the Falls City Police Department. 911 calls are received by the Falls City Police Department and then transferred to the Sheriff’s Office for their Dispatch to obtain the same information that has already been received by the 911 operator. Only then is the Sheriff’s Office able to dispatch a Deputy to the address. This was problematic for the County due to the substantial time delay in emergency calls for the Sheriff’s Office when a few seconds could be the difference between life and death. The County wants to try and clear up any inconsistencies within the public’s opinion and let the citizens know that we are wanting to make sure we make the best safe and financial decisions for the citizens of Richardson county in the long run.
Negotiations between the County and the City were initiated in an effort to possibly combine the two dispatch centers to resolve the issue. The County offered the City employing their four full time employees and moving all dispatching to the Sheriff’s Office with the only expenditure to the City being to compensate for one Dispatcher position. The City has declined this offer. The County also offered the City acquiring its four full-time Dispatchers and moves the Dispatch Center to the Police Department in which case the County would reimburse the City for one dispatch position. The City declined. Ultimately, a letter was sent to the County Board from the City stating the City was unwilling to negotiate any 911 dispatch. However, the City did request the County pay $125,000 annually towards 911 costs, $185,000 annually for dispatch budget, and $750,000 (one time cost) for radio console updates. Therefore, it is not feasible. On June 15th, Gary Jorn, Falls City Administrator, suggested the County could raise the mill levy one cent to pay the City. The County Board is against raising the mill levy and does not believe it would be acting in the best interests of the taxpayers to spend over a million dollars to combine Dispatch Centers locally when the City and County will have no option but to move forward with implementing regional dispatching in a near future. Additionally, moving dispatch services to the Southeast Communications 911 Center, for $180,000 annually, and $400,000 (one-time fee) for tower and radio equipment, allows the cost of 911 equipment to be shared among all agencies dispatched, instead of Richardson County incurring the entire costs.
In conclusion, it is the Board’s position that moving Dispatch to Southeast Communications 911 Center will be a more cost-efficient move and most importantly provide better service to the citizens of Richardson County.
Commissioner Rick Karas