Clark County will move its emergency 9-1-1 dispatchers to the Springview Government Center, which could house a countywide dispatch center in the future, county officials said
The county began accepting requests for proposals last week for a consultant who will oversee the creation of a countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center at Springview at 3130 E. Main St., Clark County Administrator Jenny Hutchinson said.
The county currently spends about $1.4 million and the city about $1.5 million annually to operate separate 9-1-1 centers. The project has been discussed for years, but has been delayed largely due to disagreements over cost and control.
Leaders have said operations will improve if all jurisdictions are on the same system. It will also allow for 9-1-1 calls to come to one location. Currently 9-1-1 calls go to different dispatchers based on where callers are located and what type of phone they’re using, which can lead to delays in response times as calls are transferred.
The county has discussed moving its dispatchers out of the Clark County Jail building to Springview for several years to provide more space, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.
“There’s no sense to upgrading in place,” Lohnes said.
More than 15 consultants have already requested information to bid on the proposal, Hutchinson said. It’s unclear how much the consultant will cost as there are currently no cost estimates, she said. The requests are due Sept. 29 and a vendor will likely be selected by mid-October.
A 9-1-1 center planning committee met for the first time last week, Lohnes said.
“We’re working positively,” Lohnes said. “The first meeting was very good. The time is right for this happen. I’m very positive.”
The members include representatives from the three largest political entities, including Lohnes, City Manager Jim Bodenmiller and Bethel Twp. Trustee Nancy Brown. The committee has always existed, but hasn’t been active during his time on the county commission, Lohnes said.
The committee must approve any plan for a combined dispatch center, he said.
Bodenmiller couldn’t be reached for comment. Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland hasn’t been a part of any recent discussions, he said, but is hopeful the combined dispatch center will come to fruition.
“It’s something we’d like to see happen,” Copeland said.
The 9-1-1 Technical Advisory committee has also been meeting regularly, Lohnes said. Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett likely will oversee the countywide dispatch center, he said, and an operations management committee might be created to figure out operating procedures, including input from the city.
“It will take a little different complexion,” Lohnes said. “It will be even more important and more involved as we press on toward the joint dispatch.”
The committee will be included in selecting a consultant, who will drive the next plan moving forward, Lohnes said.
“The consultant will not just give us information, they will manage or supervise the move, setting it up,” he said.
The county and city must both implement a new system to comply with Next Generation 9-1-1 requirements by 2020, Lohnes said.
The facility at Springview — located at the current workout facility on the first floor — will be large enough to house the dispatch center with upgraded equipment, Lohnes said. The move could start in early 2018, he said, but that will be dictated by the consultant.
Eight of the 10 townships contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for dispatching services. The city of New Carlisle contracts with Springfield.
The city and county have held discussions about creating a countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center off and on for about 15 to 20 years. In 2013, after the city purchased the former U.S. Army Reserve military complex at 1515 W. High St., discussions picked back up, but no agreements have been put in place since that time.
A consulting firm report indicated the city and the county would have to spend between $2.9 million and $3.5 million on new equipment and millions more to renovate the facility on High Street.
The plan initially called for the city, county and townships to create a council of governments, which would give equal voting rights to all entities. Champaign County used a similar process when it created its countywide dispatch in 2006. Montgomery and Miami counties also have countywide dispatch centers.
However, Lohnes told the Springfield News-Sun earlier this year he prefers contracting out the service to one entity, rather than creating another layer of government.
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Funding models for the dispatch center are still being discussed, Lohnes said.
Both a resident-led group and an independent consultant recommended examining combined dispatching services to save money after completing audits of the Springfield’s budget last year.
The two dispatch centers have about 35 full-time employees and field about 150,000 calls annually.
September 2013: Casino money might help pay for combined dispatch
March 2014: County dispatch to save German Twp. $30K
September 2015: Combined 9-1-1 system on hold for Springfield, Clark County
September 2016: New Clark County 11 system will soon allow emergency texts
January of 2017: Clark County, Springfield still mulling combined dispatch center
By the numbers
$1.4 million: Amount of money Clark County will spend on dispatching this year.
$1.5 million: Amount of money Springfield will spend on dispatching this year.
150,000: Estimated number of calls handled annually by Springfield and Clark County dispatchers.
Staying with the story
The Springfield News-Sun has tracked the city of Springfield and Clark County’s efforts to create a combined 9-1-1 emergency dispatch center for more than five years, including stories digging into the cost and call volumes.