Clark County to spend $140K for consultant for combined 9-1-1 center

8:00 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 Politics
Three of the dispatchers in the Clark County Dispatch Center answer emergency calls. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark County will spend $140,000 to hire a consultant to oversee the process of creating a unified countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center.

Clark County commissioners voted unanimously this week to hire Fairfax, Va.-based Federal Engineering Inc. to help it transition from its current location at the Clark County Jail to the Springview Government Center. The consultant will also guide the county as it implements next generation technology.

MORE: Here’s your chance to weigh in on proposed Clark County 9-1-1 tax

The consultant was chosen by a group of local leaders working on the proposed combined dispatch plan, including county, city and township officials. The group interviewed three different consultants who responded to the county’s request for proposals, County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.

“It ranked No. 1 in our group,” Lohnes said. “They have a lot of experience, especially with the state of Ohio. We liked them a lot.”

Federal Engineering was selected as a top consultant last year by Mission Critical Communications, an industry magazine. The company has consulted clients in more than 40 states and several cities in Canada. The contract began Nov. 15 and runs through the end of 2018.

The county will move its dispatch center to Springview Government Center with the hope it becomes home to a countywide operation, Lohnes said.

“I hope the joint dispatch thing happens,” Lohnes said.

FIRST REPORT: Property tax bills may go up to pay for new Clark County 9-1-1 center

Later this month, Clark County commissioners will hold public meetings to discuss a proposed property tax assessment that would pay for a new countywide 9-1-1 dispatch center.

The meetings will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at the Springview Government Center, 3130 E. Main St., and at 10 a.m. Dec. 6 at the fifth floor public chamber of the Clark County Offices, 50 E. Columbia St.

Commissioners have proposed increasing taxes for property owners in Clark County by about $60 a year to pay for a state-of-the-art combined 9-1-1 dispatch center in 2019.

The proposed flat fee, parcel assessment would likely save Springfield and the county about $1.5 million each in general fund tax dollars annually. The townships and the city of New Carlisle would also save money on dispatching annually, Lohnes said.

Emergency operations will improve if all jurisdictions are on the same system, Lohnes has said, allowing emergency calls to go to one location. Currently 9-1-1 calls go to different dispatch centers 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 between the city and county.

MORE: Springfield Mayor: Lack of parks funding from Clark County ‘a scandal’

The amount of the proposed assessment is to be determined but might be in the range of $60 annually or $5 per month. Commissioners also discussed up to $70 per parcel.

Any tract of land that’s been improved, such as a building, driveway or structure, will be assessed the same fee, leaders said. Clark County currently has about 55,500 improved parcels.

Combined the two dispatch centers currently cost about $3 million to operate annually with about 35 full-time employees that field about 150,000 calls annually.

The new dispatch center could cost up to $4 million per year, including renovations, security and new equipment, Lohnes said.

TIMELINE

July 2013: Unified dispatch c enter plan moves forward

September 2013: Casino money might help pay for combined dispatch

March 2014: County dispatch to save German Twp. $30K

May 2014: Unified dispatch center technology to cost millions

September 2015: Combined 9-1-1 system on hold for Springfield, Clark County

June 2016: Report urges Springfield, county to look at merged government options

April 2016: Clark County Commissioner: Drowning highlights dispatch problems

September 2016: New Clark County 11 system will soon allow emergency texts

August 2016: State Auditor: Clark County could be test case for shared services

January of 2017: Clark County, Springfield still mulling combined dispatch center

View full experience