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    Sep 2003

    Thumbs down Tight budget? Let’s get rid of dispatch!

    Dispatch plan may save cash

    Northville Township, city want to combine their fire and police

    By Shanteé Woodards / The Detroit News

    John M. Galloway / Special to The Detroit News

    NORTHVILLE — Northville city and township officials are considering another joint service now that state budget cuts are forcing communities to scale back their resources.

    The latest effort would involve combining dispatch services for police and fire emergencies. City and township officials are examining how the services are offered in each community and preparing to draft a contract, which could be ready this summer.

    Under the proposal, the city would send its dispatchers to the township’s new police station and upcoming dispatch center. The city would pay the township $76,000 the first year, which includes salaries and employee benefits. The price is expected to rise after the third year, which is when township officials estimate they will need to hire an additional dispatcher because of an increased workload. It costs the city $330,000 a year to run its own dispatch.

    “I know there are some concerns about whether it will work, and I know it can,” said Northville Police Chief James Petres. “(But) it will involve some change and things will be different. There won’t be an around-the-clock presence in our building.”

    The joint venture is a result of communities examining new ways to save money at a time when state funding is decreasing.

    Plymouth has scaled back some of its municipal services and cut funding for special events. Utica stopped employee training, and Berkley postponed downtown landscaping plans.

    Other towns also are considering merging police dispatch services and animal control.

    “The state of Michigan and the Legislature have put such tremendous handicaps on local governments throughout the state,” said Plymouth City Manager Paul Sincock. “We have to look at different ways of doing business and look at all the alternatives.”

    Last year, Plymouth officials approached Northville Township about taking on their dispatch service. Plymouth Township has picked up the city’s dispatch service for about eight years, but the city could save as much as $85,000 by operating with Northville Township.

    The plans are stalled until Northville Township works out a deal with the city of Northville. From there, they would decide if they could handle Plymouth’s dispatch operation as well.

    “(Sharing dispatch with Plymouth Township) is a good service and it’s a good situation,” Sincock said.

    “People don’t recognize borders. The city of Plymouth’s bad guys are Plymouth Township’s bad guys.”

    The Northville-Northville Township dispatch operation would be housed in the township’s new dispatch center on Six Mile. Construction is expected to begin this fall. Two of the city’s dispatchers will go to the township. Its third dispatcher, who also is a records clerk, would stay with the city.

    The township averages about 17,000 police and fire runs per year. Most of the fire runs are requests for medical assistance. Taking on Northville’s dispatch service would increase the city’s calls by about 25 percent, officials said.

    “There is a natural progression for Northville Township and city to do dispatch (together),” Werth said. “Our mission statement in Northville Township is customer service. The highest priority run is dispatched first. The goal for us is to get the help to the residents that need it.”

    You can reach Shanteé Woodards at (734) 462-2204 or swoodards@detnews.com.

    Reports given to city council say the city's average "time of call” to “time of dispatch" is about 1 minute. The township's time is 4.6 minutes.
    Last edited by ffexpCP; 06-12-2004 at 03:02 PM.

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