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No vote on dispatch expected by year's end for Tallmadge

By ELLIN WALSH Reporter Published: November 13, 2016 12:00 AM

Tallmadge -- Mayor Dave Kline says he doesn't anticipate asking Council to vote on how the city should proceed dispatch-wise before the end of the year.

Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge are considering forming a Council of Governments, with the goal of doing so by the end of the year, in order to create a regional dispatch center by the middle of next year.

"That's a pretty aggressive schedule," Kline told members of City Council Oct. 27, adding, "I don't think that's going to happen."

Since 2009, Tallmadge has contracted with the Stow Police Department for dispatch services; it pays $400,000 per year for that service, according to Kline. The city of Cuyahoga Falls operates its own dispatch center.

A merged dispatching center could be overseen by a Council of Governments with representatives from each member entity.

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With the state's 911 system in need of an overhaul, Kline said what's eyed is the implementation of Next Generation 911 technology. A state committee has recommended that the number of dispatching centers, known as Public Service Answering Points, be reduced.

"There's too many unknowns (at this point to determine how to proceed)," Kline says, noting Tallmadge City Council only has two meetings remaining in 2016. "Who will be the players and how will that affect how much it's going to cost? No one can say right now, and that's an impediment to getting numbers for comparison."

During Council's Oct. 27 meeting, At-large Representative Kimberly F. Ray said she'd like to see a financial comparison of whether it would be more beneficial for the city of Tallmadge to be a member of the COG versus a contractee.

For a COG to be established, Kline said, Tallmadge would need to make capital expenditures as well as cover ongoing operating costs.

"We have 18,000 residents that we have to guarantee phenomenal services (for) and I'm going to continue to do that," Kline says. "If I can do better service by being a COG member, then I want to do that. If it's still the same great service and being a contractee to a new dispatch center, that's also OK."

For budgetary purposes Kline said there is nothing above the $400,000 contractual payment to Stow for dispatch services factored into the city's 2017 budget. The city's projected fund balance for next year is going to be a little over $5 million, the mayor said, noting the required minimum is $2.7 million.

"We've had requests for more capital improvements and more employees but we're saying, 'No,'" Kline said, "because we know the monkey in the room is 'How are we going to pay for dispatch?'"

Email: ewalsh@recordpub.com.

Phone: 330-541-9419

Twitter: @ EllinWalsh_RPC


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