Commissioners discuss 911 dispatch with interim Beatrice Police Chief

The regular meeting of the Richardson County Board of Commissioners was called to order by Chairman Caverzagie at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2023. Karas and Caverzagie answered the roll call. Commissioner Sickel was absent

Interim Beatrice City Police Chief Jay Murphy met with the Board regarding the dispatching services of the Southeast Communications 911 Beatrice for the Richardson County Sheriff’s Department. A verbal proposal was stated that the organization would continue to provide the dispatch services for $200,000/year to Richardson County. The proposal would also include a three percent increase/year. It was previously reported that Southeast Communications 911 Beatrice wanted $360,000/year for the service.     

With the current contract, which will terminate in August of 2024, there were services included in the contract, such as dispatching fire and rescue and 911, that have not been done, and some conversation was held with the history of the contract and services.  

Murphy reported on the total calls that were serviced by the organization this past year, with the City of Crete at 6,900, Gage County at 7,000, the City of Beatrice at 12,000, and Richardson County at 8,000.  

Murphy said he talked to  Tobias Tempelmeyer (the Beatrice City Administrator), who gave him his blessing to negotiate with Richardson County. 

“I’m here to fight for you guys,” said Murphy. “I know how much of a benefit it is to have good dispatch.”

He said he understood that the majority of the calls are calls for service and traffic stops that don’t take that much more dispatching, and he feels it’s unfair to charge that amount of money per call for service. 

Beatrice would be looking at a two-year contract to keep everyone on the same renewal process, but they are not opposed to a three-year contract. 

“Here’s my big gripe,” said Karas. “We have paid for the last three years for services, extra services that we have not received. My thought is that we’ve overpaid, so I guess I’m not for the $200,000.”

The services in question regarded a cell tower issue, which was built for $900,000 after the County got into the contract with Beatrice.

“As far as 911 goes, it doesn’t sound like maybe that wasn’t kind of a done deal. It wasn’t really our fault,” said Murphy. “Falls City kind of wanted to keep that. So I can’t do a whole lot about that. What I will say, though, is you guys, realistically, compared to everyone else we dispatch for, you’re at like half the price. I realize there’s some bugs and issues and stuff that we need to work out. I’ll stand up for you, and we’ll try to work those out, but again, we just can’t go backward in price.”

Murphy said Beatrice hired additional dispatchers, and that’s why they need to stick with this number. 

“I still got a bad taste in my mouth because when a man don’t return your calls or emails and you’re paying him $80-90,000 a year, that’s not good,” said Karas. 

Murphy said he found it hard to believe that Tobias didn’t return phone calls and that maybe they had been pushed off to Chief Hickman, but Karas said he spoke to Hickman, and he said he had nothing to do with it. “So I kind of got the runaround.”

Murphy said he understood, but he was here now talking with the Commissioners, and he returned their calls and would be working with them. 

There was no formal action on this matter, and more discussion will be held at next week’s meeting when Commissioner David Sickel is in attendance. 

A report was approved for Sheriff Hardesty for fees collected during the month of November 2023 totaling $4,881.82. 

Sheriff Hardesty also reported that there were 23 inmates currently being held by Richardson County, with one of those inmates being housed in another facility. The Sheriff also met with HTRS Superintendent Dr. Griffiths, who indicated that the school district still desires to continue with the School Resource Officer program. The Sheriff also reported that Samantha Wissman graduated from the Law Enforcement Training Academy.    

The motion was made by Karas to approve the replacement of pledge security receipts with F&M Bank totaling $4,860,000 as presented by County Treasurer, Amanda Bartek-Ramsey:  current receipts 392203736 for $90,000, 392218119 for $95,000, 392225598 for $30,000, 392219905 for $835,000, 799017340 for $85,000, 392209226 for $100,000, 392218118 for $50,000, 392203735 for $355,000, 392209032 for $825,000, 392209225 for $100,000, 392205404 for $255,000, 392219904 for $35,000, 392206926 for $40,000, 392219906 for $490,000, 392219091 for $155,000, 392218535 for $540,000, 392203736 for $65,000, 392206926 for $220,000, 799018178 for $65,000, 392206926 for $430,000; to be replaced with the following receipts JC92998D for $610,000, JC93010C for $50,000, JC93011C for $95,000, JC93014B for $35,000, JC93015B for $835,000, JC93016 for $490,000, JC93020C for $85,000, JC93092B for $155,000, JC93025A for $65,000, JC93026C for $30,000, JC93042 for $155,000, JC93055B for $825,000, JC93070 for $540,000. The motion carried.   

The County Treasurer also informed the Board that she has been monitoring the investments and that a penalty will be incurred on a certificate of deposit that she will reinvest with a higher interest rate, which will result in a significant amount more to be collected in interest and which will more than offset the penalty.    

Plans are also being made for the County Treasurer’s Office staff to attend a motor vehicle fraud training in 2024.    

John Steinman requested to meet with the Board regarding a concern with a County road, 661 Avenue, located south of 708 Road.   The Board relayed to. Steinman that this is a minimum maintenance road, and certain maintenance items are not allowed to be done on it unless the road is brought up to minimum design standards as specified by the Nebraska Dept of Transportation Board of Classifications and Standards. If improvements are made to the road without the road being reclassified, the County could be subject to a loss of funding from the State of Nebraska.   Highway Superintendent Steve Darveau will be meeting with Steinman to review the area.   

Highway Superintendent Steve Darveau updated the Board on the routine business with County roads and bridges this past week.   He also reported on a session attended at last week’s conference with representatives from Nemaha, Johnson, Otoe and Pawnee Counties regarding the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill that would provide federal funding for county bridge projects.   The group will be working with engineers from the engineering firm of Midwest Engineering to proceed with completing the grant application, etc.  

The Board approved to enter into a contract with Steve Mercure for public defender services for the years 2024 through 2028.

A motion was made by Caverzagie to deny a portion of a claim held to Amazon for $119.92 denying the charge of $49.95 for invoice 16FX-1JMQ-1WH9 and to pay the remainder of that claim and to all the payment of all claims that were submitted. The motion carried. 

The meeting adjourned at 10:22 a.m. The Board met  again at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 27, 2023, in the Commissioner’s Meeting Room, Courthouse, Falls City.   The agenda is kept current at the County Clerk’s Office. 

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