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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
By the numbers
$3 million: Money Clark County and Springfield currently spend on dispatching annually combined.
35: Total number of dispatch employees at the Clark County and Springfield dispatch centers combined.
150,000: Estimated number of calls handled annually by Springfield and Clark County dispatchers combined.