ANDERSON — The committee working on combining 911 emergency dispatch centers in Madison County will be moving forward with or without the city of Anderson.
Last week, the Anderson City Council passed the first of three required readings of an ordinance that would allow the city to join the consolidated dispatch center. The project has already been approved by Elwood, Alexandria and local volunteer fire departments.
The council is expected to consider the ordinance for final passage on Aug. 14. But council members have raised concerns about the possible decrease in salaries and loss of benefits by city dispatchers if they become county employees.
Dan Dykes, administrator for the Madison County Commissioners, said the dispatch center committee will meet on Aug. 5 and is expected to ask for proposals for a new communication system that will allow all public safety agencies to be in constant contact with each other.
“The committee will ask for two proposals, one with and one without the city of Anderson,” Dykes said.
The estimated cost of a new countywide radio system is $18 million, but consultants believe the actual cost will be less than $12 million.
If Anderson decides not to participate the consultant expects the cost of the system to decrease by $2.5 million with a cost of $4 million if Anderson joins at a later date.
Dykes said the committee worked hard to make sure no city or county dispatcher will see a decrease in pay and benefits.
“No city employee will be taking more than a $100 per year pay cut,” Dykes said. “The lower cost of benefits will offset any pay reduction.
“The plan from the outset was that no employee would take a loss in compensation,” he said.
Dykes said none of the dispatchers currently working for the city or county will lose their jobs.
The proposed budget has a total of 39 dispatchers, a director and an information technology administrator.