ANDERSON – County officials are hoping to proceed with combining police dispatch systems into one center but they are unsure if the city of Anderson will participate in the plan.
The Madison County commissioners on Wednesday indicated a desire to move forward with consolidating the dispatch centers as quickly as possible. The plan would combine all 911 dispatchers into one building. In 2012, separate communication centers in Elwood and Alexandria merged with the county dispatch center.
The issue came up before the commissioners when Maj. Brian Bell, of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department, and Jerry Branson, director of Information Technology, wanted approval to seek funding for a new radio system.
Dan Dykes, the county administrator, said there has been a problem getting Anderson on board for the unification and county officials don’t know why. He said a committee has been working on trying to make the salaries comparable for all the dispatchers.
Originally scheduled to begin in June, Dykes said the county is just starting the process of hiring a director for the dispatch center.
Branson said Anderson will eventually have to join the unified dispatch center but at an increased cost.
The unification of the dispatch centers is mandated by the state, Commissioner Steffanie Owens said.
“Mayor (Kevin) Smith has to make a decision,” Bell said. “Anderson needs to make a decision.”
The savings to the city is estimated at between $500,000 and $700,000 per year if it participates in the combined dispatch center.
Mayor Kevin Smith said the intent of the administration is to do what is best for the residents of Anderson.
“The evaluation of the proposal is in the hands of the Board of Public Safety, city controller, the police and fire chiefs,” he said.
“There are financial considerations,” Smith said. “Is it a sustainable arrangement for the city because funding changes every year. The second concern is the structure of the unified dispatch center.”