The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Local Politics

July 10, 2014

City Council gives dispatch center initial OK

Final passage to be considered in August

ANDERSON, Ind. — With plenty of questions remaining about a combined dispatch center, the Anderson City Council approved an ordinance on one of three required readings.

The council will consider final passage of the agreement to consolidate 911 dispatch services at the August meeting.

Council members raised questions regarding the salaries of city dispatchers, changes in health insurance benefits and the duties of a dispatch center board.

“This is a complicated situation,” Councilman Rodney Chamberlain said. “We’re giving it one reading. We need more information and can change our vote.”

Susan Wilkerson, a 20-year dispatcher with the city, thanked the administrative staff of the Anderson Police Department for their efforts to resolve some differences.

“We have been kept out of the loop,” she said of the consolidation talks and they have heard many rumors.

“We want the council to make sure what is being said will be done,” Wilkerson said.

Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said the city is considering a five-year agreement with Madison County that hooks the city into a yearly contribution of $1.1 million or 35 percent of the proposed $3.2 million budget.

Under state legislation, Crenshaw said, the county is not required to provide 911 money collected with the city for the operation of a second dispatch center. He said if Anderson decides to operate a separate dispatch center it will cost the city an additional $445,000 per year.

He said the city will save $300,000 per year if it decides to participate in a combined dispatch center.

City Controller Jason Fenwick said, for city employees who will be covered by the county insurance plan if the consolidation is approved, in the worst-case scenario 17 of the 20 employees would see an increase in the $210 range with the highest being an annual hike of $768. He said two dispatchers would see a decrease.

In the best-case scenario, Fenwick said, the city employees would see a savings of $300 to $400 per year in insurance costs.

The committee working on the merger has proposed buying a new radio system that will allow all law enforcement agencies to communicate with each other.

The board looking at purchasing a new radio system plans to request proposals for a new communications system in August with the hope to have the combined 911 dispatch center in operation by the end of the year.

The estimated cost of the new radio system is $18 million.

If Anderson decides not to participate in the combined dispatch services, it has been estimated the county will save $2.5 million in the cost of the new radio system. If the city joins at a late date, the expected cost is $4 million.

As proposed, the dispatch center budget would be $3.2 million with Anderson providing $1.2 million, $680,000 in E911 fees, $1 million from Madison County; $250,000 from the fire departments and $180,000 from Alexandria and Elwood.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

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