The Marshall County Council started the ball rolling on the project after hearing from Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin and City of Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter. Chamberlin was before the Council to discuss funding possibilities to make up shortfalls in the counties 911 and dispatch budgets.
While some communities in Marshall County maintain their own dispatch centers for emergency personnel during normal office hours, fire, police and EMS are dispatched by county operators at night. Chamberlin had been charged with coming up with a method of invoicing local governmental jurisdictions for the county’s services.
Chamberlin presented a plan for the Council to consider based on the number and type of calls from each jurisdiction and billing them accordingly for those calls. The shortfall in funding for dispatch services by county operators is approximately $91,000. Argos, Bourbon and Culver currently already pay for the county to dispatch their emergency personnel.
Chamberlin estimated that for a jurisdiction to pay salary and benefits for personnel to maintain a dispatch center for emergency responders that was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week could cost a community around $200,000 a year. Currently the county charges jurisdictions $4000 for the service an obvious savings for a community taking advantage of it.
Chamberlin said that the county should look at establishing one central dispatch location to help those jurisdictions cut costs and with the county charging for services allow Chamberlin’s department to find funding for those services.
Plymouth Mayor Mark Senter addressed the County Council stating that he felt that an “ad hoc committee” should be formed to study the issue in depth in order to find a way to best serve residents in a cost effective manor.
Council persons Dean Byers, and Judy Stone, along with Council President Matt Hassel agreed with the idea stating that the committee should be made up of representatives from the County Council and County Commissioners, but more importantly should have representatives from all of the counties townships and towns that would be affected by any sort of central dispatch arrangement in the county.
The original committee the Council recommended by a unanimous vote will study the possibilities of a central dispatch location in Marshall County and make a recommendation on how it should be structured.
Currently all 911 calls in Marshall County are taken by operators at the Marshall County Jail. Those operators are cross trained to handle dispatch calls as well as 911 calls.
Rusty Nixon Correspondent