You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Clark County, Springfield still mulling combined dispatch center


Clark County and the city of Springfield will continue discussions this year about a countywide combined dispatch center to enhance emergency services and improve public safety.

The county currently spends about $1.4 million and the city about $1.5 million annually to operate separate 9-1-1 centers. The combined dispatch center was a hot topic during the recent election as several city and county commissioners expressed their desire to utilize services where possible. The project has been put on hold largely due to disagreements over cost and control.

Leaders have said operations will improve if all jurisdictions are on the same frequency. It will also allow for 911 calls to come to one location. Currently, 911 calls go to different locations 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.

“It’s a no-brainer if you’re looking at it from a standpoint of saving lives,” Clark County commissioner John Detrick said at his last meeting on Dec. 29

This year, eight of the 10 townships will again contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for dispatching services. Clark County commissioners approved about $127,000 in contracts with four townships last week, including Moorefield ($43,000), Springfield ($42,000), German ($27,000) and Pike ($14,000).

The four other townships — Bethel, Harmony, Madison and Pleasant Twps. — are also expected to contract services, Detrick said. Some townships have saved between $50,000 and $75,000 dollars annually after contracting with the Sheriff’s Office in recent years, Detrick said.

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.

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 — which gave a voice to all participating local governments — when it created its countywide dispatch in 2006. Montgomery and Miami Counties also have countywide dispatch centers.

Earlier this year, the Auditor of State Dave Yost came to Springfield to discuss Ohio House Bill 5, a new law which allows state agencies or local public entities to petition the Ohio Auditor’s Office to conduct a feasibility study to determine if sharing services could lead to cost savings, such as the combined dispatch center.

It’s unlikely money would be granted to study the dispatch center under the former plan because it creates another layer of government, Clark County commissioner Rick Lohnes said. The best method is to contract the service out to one of the entities, he said.

“The more I thought about it, it’s more government and it’s management by committee, which is inefficient,” he said.

Lohnes offered Springfield a deal where it would essentially contract with the Sheriff’s Office with about $50,000 in cost savings the first five years, followed by a catch-up payment after five years, he said, but it was turned down.

Springfield City Manager Jim Bodenmiller prefers a council of governments method giving equal and mutual control to all entities involved, as opposed to one party being the ultimate authority, he said.

“I personally believe that’s a better system, but we have talked about both options and we remain willing to talk about both options,” Bodenmiller said. “We still believe very strongly in the concept and want to continue those discussions.

Lohnes has since put the discussions on hold because of the city’s financial troubles. Clark County also saw Deb Burchett elected as its new sheriff, who must agree to the plan to combine dispatch throughout the county. Burchett did not return calls seeking comment.

“It’s not dead,” Lohnes said.

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. Lohnes doesn’t think it will cost as much as estimated, he said.

“I’m convinced it doesn’t need to be that (expensive),” Lohnes said.

About $1.3 million of the city’s general fund is spent on dispatch services, while the remainder comes from the city’s police levy fund. Both a resident-led group and an independent consultant recommended examining combined dispatching services to save money after completing audits of the city’s budget last year.

“I continue to believe it will be a better service for the public once implemented,” Bodenmiller said.

Bodenmiller and County Administrator Jenny Hutchinson will continue to meet to discuss the project, he said.

“It’s definitely an issue we all agree we need to continue to work on with the goal of implementing it in 2017 if at all possible,” Bodenmiller said. “At the end of the day, there are funding formulas to figure out and service issues we have to lock down.”

Green and Mad River Townships are the only two who have not agreed to a contract with the Sheriff’s Office — which Detrick also hopes the commission will bring into the fold for a combined dispatch center.

Mad River Twp. has no immediate plans to make a change, Trustee Bob McClure said. The township spends about $110,000 annually for dispatching services, which includes four full-time employees and one part-time employee.

The last time it researched making a change, trustees felt the services provided by its own dispatchers outweighed the cost savings, McClure said.

“We felt the numbers were within reason,” McClure said. “We’ve felt we want to continue with those services as long as we’re able to do that. … We’re not saying forever, but if we can justify it, then we want to be able to provide it.”

Green Twp. Trustee Allen Armstrong could not be reached for comment.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Congressman Mike Turner target of national Democratic group
Congressman Mike Turner target of national Democratic group

For the first time in more than a dozen years, the congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, is being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has named 79 seats of more than 130 it plans to focus on in 2018. Turner was one of 20 new targets the DCCC announced Monday. He is one of only two that voted...
South Charleston neighbor upset by ‘eyesore’
South Charleston neighbor upset by ‘eyesore’

A home in South Charleston is causing concerns for some residents residents, with some neighbors calling it an eyesore in need of repair. Thomas Hootman has lived on Walnut Street in South Charleston for about 15 years. He said the house at 28 Walnut St. is frustrating to look at. “It’s in shambles. I mean it looks horrible to look at every...
Ohio may exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty
Ohio may exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty

Breastfeeding mothers would be exempt from jury duty under a bill introduced in the Ohio Legislature by Rep. Ann Gonzalez, R-Westerville. She introduced the bill after hearing from a constituent who could not get excused even though she needed to breastfeed her baby. “A constituent came to us and she was forced to be in a broom closet, that was...
Lawmakers: Medicaid should cover pediatric drug addiction services
Lawmakers: Medicaid should cover pediatric drug addiction services

Ohio’s two senators are introducing a bill aimed at helping newborns born addicted recover in a supportive setting. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Rob Portman, R-Ohio along with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Angus King, I-Maine, have reintroduced a bill that would recognize allow Medicaid to cover pediatric drug addiction recovery services...
Cyclists Bike to Work in downtown Springfield, despite stormy weather
Cyclists Bike to Work in downtown Springfield, despite stormy weather

Cyclists descended on City Hall Plaza on Friday morning as part of the fourth annual Bike to Work Day in Springfield. An estimated 75 to 100 cyclists attended the annual event designed to promote cycling as a mode of transportation, despite the storms early in the morning, Deputy City Manager Bryan Heck said. “Given the weather, we were excited...
More Stories