Cost of 911 dispatch getting too hot for city, county?

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

The annual cost of the Central Dispatch System, about $300,000, is getting to be a hot potato between county and city governments.
The Central Dispatch System fields 911 and other calls from law enforcement officials throughout Quay County.

Mandated by the state, the dispatch center operates out of the Tucumcari Police Department and is staffed by six dispatchers and one supervisor, said Tucumcari Police Chief Daniel Lopez at Monday’s Quay County Commission meeting.

Lopez was there to ask the county to ante up more funds in the future to operate the center, and if a joint powers agreement (JPA) between the city and the county could be renegotiated to stipulate that the county would pay more in the future.

The original JPA, agreed to in 2005, calls for the city and county to divide the annual operating costs through the 2007 fiscal year which ends June 30. For the past two years, the county and city have each pitched in $150,000.

Beginning July 1, the county is to pay on a per call basis.

It’s estimated that the city’s Police Department accounts for 73 percent to 88 percent of all the activity, Lopez said.

However, there are other costs in addition to the calls, such as warrant verification, utilities, salaries, training and certification of staff for which the city and police department should be reimbursed, Lopez said.

Next fiscal year’s projected annual costs are $304,000, Lopez said.

“I don’t think we can afford to fund the whole thing,” Lopez said.

“I understand you inherited this, but the city should have been preparing for a bigger share,” said Commissioner Robert Lopez.

It’s estimated that the county paid about $75,000 annually before the dispatch operations were consolidated and upgraded, said commission chairman, Franklin McCasland.

Because the city did not break out its dispatch costs before the consolidation, those costs are not known at this time, Lopez said.
The commissioners asked Lopez to provide them with those costs and a more detailed breakdown of projected costs.

No decision was made about funding and city and county officials are expected to meet again to discuss funding of the dispatch center.