Clark County Commission: Federal relief dollars to cover 2022 dispatch center fees

The new combined dispatch center is expected to open this year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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The new combined dispatch center is expected to open this year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Clark County will use $50,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to pay for dispatch center fees for several townships and villages.

Clark County commissioners have approved $50,978.75 of 2022 fees for German Twp., South Charleston, Enon, Tremont City, Catawba, North Hampton, South Vienna and Donnelsville for their use of the county’s dispatch services.

Previously, these townships and villages were expected to pay for dispatch fees from the county this year. Officials from a few municipalities last year objected to the costs after the commissioners approved a tiered-pricing model for the dispatch fees on Nov. 17

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Rates for the call were approved at $5.50 each for agencies for the first 2,000 calls associated with them, with the price per call decreasing to $5.25 for the next 2,000 calls and $5 per call for the next 2,000 calls that follow. Agencies are expected to contribute an annual fee of no less than $2,500, according to the tiered-pricing model passed by the commission.

A previous plan for the tier-pricing model was set at roughly $21 per call. The county is footing 75% of the costs for the call center through its general fund, with village and township police agencies in the county expected to contribute roughly 25% of the cost.

Calls for service handled by the dispatch center will be charged to their respective agencies: calls that result in a law enforcement officer needing to mitigate an issue. Administrative calls will not result in charges

Mike Stitzel, chief of German Twp.’s police department, told the commission in November that based on data from 2020, his police force would be expected to contribute $26,000 to the center. He said that although this figure is substantially down from the original pricing model, the new estimate is roughly ⅓ of the township’s property tax base. The funding to cover the costs for dispatch center fees could impact his salary fund.

Stitzel said that to keep costs from the dispatch center down, his agency is currently working to launch a campaign to encourage its community to reach out directly to his police agency when possible, specifically during non-emergencies, instead of the dispatch center.

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“We’re still looking at ways to cut costs,” he said. The police chief said that his agency is still negotiating its dispatch center contract with the county.

Clark County spokesman Mike Cooper confirmed that nearly all the municipalities included in the ARPA dispatch fees funding, save for the Village of Enon, are still negotiating their dispatch contracts with the county.

The money authorized to cover the fees is part of the $26 million allocated to Clark County from the $1.9 trillion ARPA that President Joe Biden signed into law in March. A total of $350 billion was allocated to help local governments across the country reeling from pandemic impact.

ARPA dollars can fund resources that respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and the dispatch center allots local law enforcement the ability to promote public safety, according to the commission.

The commissioners have allocated more than $11 million in ARPA funds for various projects, such as for the reimbursement to the general fund for pandemic-related losses in revenue, the reimbursement of employee paid administrative leave and the funding of technology for the county’s dispatch center, expected to open in 2022.

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Commissioners also approved ARPA spending for a stormwater improvement project for Enon-Xenia Road to help alleviate flooding in the area and for a fiber optic project to service county-owned buildings, as well as a safety improvement project for Spangler Road.

In November 2021, the commission also authorized $800,000 of spending toward a project to extend the waterline that runs near Park Layne. Another $220,000 was allocated in January to cover assistance expenses of Clark County veterans seeking aid through the county veterans office.

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