November 26, 2014

Medina
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Lodi may switch dispatchers

LODI — The village is exploring ways to cut down on its cost for dispatch services, which could lead to contracting with Wadsworth instead of the Medina County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor Dan Goodrow said Lodi pays about $47,000 a year for dispatch services provided by the Sheriff’s Office, a “serious spike” since 2007, he said.

“I saw that number and was kind of floored and thought we could probably try and do something … to curb costs,” he said.

County Administrator Chris Jakab said Lodi’s costs went up by $8,000 in 2008, but its call volume also increased from 1,778 in 2007 to 2,174 in 2008.

“It peaked in 2008, and it’s mostly on the police side,” Jakab said.

Every year, Jakab said, county commissioners come up with an operating budget for the sheriff’s communication division. The division annually summarizes call activity, which is used to determine a proportionate cost.

“And then a per-call amount is determined and divided into the total operating budget and … sent for dispatch for the current year, so (2009) billing is for (2010) purposes,” he said.

John Carpenter, head of the Village Council’s Safety Committee, called the way the county calculates bills for dispatch “convoluted.”

“They tell us it’s by call but don’t define how they come up with that per-call formula,” he said. “We don’t sign a contract for an agreed upon amount; we sign a contract for a bill.”

The Safety Committee and Police Department have had several fact-finding meetings with the Wadsworth Safety Department to discuss the possibility of contracting with Wadsworth Police for dispatch services.

Goodrow said preliminary estimates suggest that contracting with Wadsworth could save the village $14,000 a year.

Contracting with Wadsworth would not be without added costs, however. Carpenter said the village would have to purchase and install a repeater to strengthen the signal from Wadsworth for about $20,000.

Goodrow said the village is looking into grants to purchase a repeater.

He said he would like the village to continue working with the Sheriff’s Office, but wants a clearer picture of how the village is billed.

“I’m looking for an opportunity to define a clear and understandable version of how costs are calculated and therefore develop an expectation of costs on an annual basis, or come up with a model that allows a flat cost to be instituted based on historical data or anticipated call levels,” he said.

He added the village could cut its cost for dispatch services if it updated its phone system, which is funneled through village hall during the day and does not rollover to the police station at night, which means non-emergency calls come through the Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re trying to look at ways of updating the phone system to be more resident-friendly and in doing so encourage people to use the Police Department’s number and feel confident of getting a hold of somebody,” he said.

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.