Dispatch Center fee gets some pushback

Major Chris Clark, of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, talks about the new dispatch center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Major Chris Clark, of the Clark County Sheriff’s Department, talks about the new dispatch center. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

German Twp. and North Hampton police departments have voiced concerns over fees associated with the Clark County-wide dispatch center.

Officials from both municipalities objected to the costs after Board of Clark County Commissioners approved a tiered-pricing model for the center during a recent commission meeting.

The annual fee for the dispatch center will initially be calculated through an agency’s calls from last year. 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 resolution.

However, those fees will cut into funding pools that come from property taxes and citations, German Twp. and North Hampton officials say. They want to avoid charging residents more or making cuts.

Mike Stitzel, chief of German Twp.’s police department, said 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 takes boots off the ground,” he said. ”We need more officers in the community walking around, being able to respond.”

Stitzel said that to keep costs from the dispatch center down, his agency is planning on launching a campaign to encourage its community to reach out directly to his police agency when possible instead of the dispatch center.

ExploreLocal food bank seeks to combat food insecurity amid inflating food prices

The pricing model was the first step in negotiating with village and township police agencies that will use the center, Clark County Administrator Jennifer Hutchinson said.

The original tier-pricing model was set at roughly $21 per call, Hutchison said. 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.

“We do feel that it is important that everyone pays something toward the 911 center,” she said. “There is a cost for us to provide this service. It’s not free for us.”

ExploreBillions of dollars coming to Ohio for infrastructure

Clark County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Chris Clark, who attended the meeting to answer police agencies’ questions, said that “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.

“We get the fact that it can be a lot of money,” he said. “We took that into consideration. We are still providing 75% of the cost for dispatching… we’re just asking you to pay 25% of it.”

ExplorePhotos: Top 50 images from Springfield's 2021 football season

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office will manage the $5 million, 7,000-square-foot dispatch center, office and training facility. The center will be located on Home Road, in the former Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Children’s Home once it opens next year.

A combined dispatch center for the county has been in talks for decades, and Clark County announced in 2017 that it would build the 911 dispatch center that will allow residents to text, send pictures and videos to dispatchers. The center will also put the county in accordance with Ohio’s Next Generation 911 requirement that calls for dispatch services to become more advanced.

About the Author