Livingston County entered into a contract agreement with the city of Chillicothe to form a consolidated 911 dispatch center during an emergency county commission meeting Monday morning.
"It was just more efficient," said Livingston County Presiding Commissioner Eva Danner Horton today, of the consolidation. "[The services] can all be done from one center, with less taxpayer money. The [current] 911 fund wasn't sufficient to pay for all of the [county's] dispatchers."
The agreement calls for the Chillicothe Police Department's dispatch center to host the consolidated effort, with supplies (notably "'Viper' communication equipment") from the Livingston County Sheriff's Department center just across the street (Webster) transferring to the CPD center. The anticipated start-up date for the consolidated dispatch center is April 1, 2013.
"It may be earlier," said Chillicothe City Administrator Ike Holland Tuesday. "It's mostly being driven by AT&T. [They] have to switch over some telephone lines and services.
"Worst-case scenario, we're hoping for April 1," he said.
"Our target date is definitely April 1," Horton agreed. "A lot of it is when we can get this equipment moved."
Horton also noted that there are currently 19 counties in the state without 911 services, and that there has been talk of state funding coming through for cellular phone services.
"Eighty percent of calls that come in [to 911 are] from cell phones," she said. "There needs to be more funding from cell phones. We've been told that, for that funding to come about, we're going to have to run more efficiently." Thus, she said, the consolidation.
The contract is for 10 years, county through city, with no termination possible within the first year. It calls for the city of Chillicothe to pay for 63 percent of the dispatch center's cost, while the county takes on the remaining 37 percent. These figures are based upon 2010 United States Census data, regarding population of citizens within the city (city's percentage), and population of citizens of the county who are not also a citizen of the city (county's percentage).
"That will be reviewed each year," Horton said.
A 911 advisory board shall be established, per the contract, in an advisory role only. The city of Chillicothe will have "final line authority." This advisory board will consist of the county sheriff (Steve Cox), the city police chief (Rick Knouse), the city administrator (Ike Holland), the fire/EMS chief (Darrell Wright), the city mayor (Chuck Haney), and one county commissioner.
A termination clause is included within the contract, citing the possibility of the state of Missouri requiring a 911 board be established, instead, to use allocated state funding for a dispatch center.
"That's pretty common among other states," Holland explained. "That would either be passed by the state legislature, or they would say that it would have to be done county-by-county. That money is divvied up county-by-county. The citizens wouldn't see or feel anything different [if that were to occur]."
"The city and county would both need to contract [with the 911 board]," Horton said. "If that would lead to a sales tax other than a hard-line fee, this contract would be obsolete."
All dispatch employees shall remain employees of the city of Chillicothe, per the contract. Six county dispatch positions will be eliminated, via the consolidation. Staff at the current county dispatch center noted that they have not been given a definitive date of termination, but said that, instead, the aforementioned "at or before April 1" date has been used for such. Thus far, none of the county employees have been offered positions at the consolidated center. Holland said that it is still undecided whether or not additional dispatch positions would be produced by the consolidation.
"We're looking into that," he said. "We already have dispatch officers, and they are city employees."
The city is also responsible for establishing the chain of command and staffing levels of dispatch officers, as well as the qualifications and training of their personnel.
The city "shall remain responsible for universal addressing and road street signs within the territorial limits of the municipality," the contract notes. Those road signs and pieces of universal addressing data "for residents within the County but extraterritorial to the municipality shall remain the responsibility of the County Commission." The Commission, per the contract, must maintain and upgrade this information on a timely basis, and supply it to the city, and the dispatch center.
Dispatch services shall be provided seven days a week, for 24 hours on a daily basis.
General services, such as radio, call outs, and notifications to the sheriff, shall be assumed by the consolidated dispatch center. Also included in the duties of dispatch officers at the consolidated center shall be expeditious and accurate data entry into the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System (MULES) and National Crime Information Center's (NCIC) database, dispatch of Sheriff's office personnel to service warrants and protection orders, prompt notification of arrests, maintenance of accurate records, prompt providing of records and tapes from city to county (with fees waived), dispatch of rural fire departments, computer mapping assistance, weather alert and other alert notifications, administrative telephone answering assistance, fulfillment of the prior mutual aid backup commitment currently held with Grundy County 911, and the providing of monthly road patrol schedules from the Livingston County Sheriff's office to the CPD and dispatch personnel.
Both parties have agreed to hold each other "completely harmless and without fault for any civil, criminal, or administrative liability whatsoever, including reasonable attorney fees, litigation expenses, fines, and court costs" that may result from county government activities or city dispatch services. Both agree to "promote in good faith the positive public image of the other party" within the contract, including complaints received from the general public or the media about their counterpart, or any complaints or grievances they may have in regards to the agreement or operation of the consolidated 911 dispatch center.
The contract is signed and dated Feb. 4, 2013 by Eva Danner Horton, Presiding Commissioner; Ken Lauhoff, Eastern District Commissioner; Todd Rodenberg, Western District Commissioner; and Sherry Parks, Witness. Two lines have also been provided, for "Charles E. Haney, Mayor" and "Attest: Rozanne Frampton, City Clerk", which remained blank as 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. Frampton confirmed that she was aware that the signatures had yet to be made, as she had only just received the contract Monday. She noted that the lack of signatures did not signal opposition to the contract, and said that such would be done when Mayor Haney entered the office. She said all were in agreement with the wording presented.
Holland said that he initiated the contract, the wording of which was approved by the county's attorney on Friday afternoon. An emergency session of the Livingston County Commission was called on Monday morning to sign the contract, due to training scheduled for the remainder of the week.