Price tag put on dispatch

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County will spend about $300,000 to prepare the building at 410 N. State St. to house 911 dispatch. An emergency operations center also will be outfitted.
Angie Murphy, the county’s 911 dispatch director, handed commissioners a remodeling and upgrades budget Tuesday with estimates totaling $197,205.30. In addition, another $143,000 from a state 911 grant will fund telephone and other technical improvements. Discussion led to a $30,000 decrease in the budget, by putting aside installation of a third dispatch center station until sometime in 2010.
Commissioners asked Murphy to seek additional quotes or bids for some of the construction aspects of the budget, though none is likely to reduce the total appreciably.
The primary costs are for telephone service and apparatus, pegged at $70,000 in county money plus proceeds from the state grant; $27,121 for a generator that will immediately pick up demand should a power outage occur; and $32,745 for consoles, which are enhanced desks with high-tech features.
Commission Chairman Dick Works said he was uncertain where in this year’s budget commissioners would find the $167,000 needed by year’s end to prep the building so the dispatch center could open by mid-January, a target date set soon after the building was purchased for $185,000. That money came from the general fund.
Commissioners voted last month to issue up to $400,000 in general obligation bonds for remodeling and construction to house the dispatch center, EOC and ambulances and crews. They have taken no action to trigger any of the bond money and Works has said he’d prefer not to, rather keep it in the reserve for use only if no other revenue could be uncovered.
With remodeling and outfitting of the building apparently on its way, commissioners still have to decide whether to build a separate and adjacent structure for county ambulances and crews stationed in Iola or dedicate part of the building for crew quarters and build ambulance bays. Rick Zingre, a Fort Scott architect, will give them his opinion on both approaches later.

LT. ERIC Lawrence, officer in charge of daily operations of Iola Police Department, said a conversation with City Administrator Judy Brigham led to the conclusion that two dispatchers could be hired, to bring dispatch to full force, through an agreement that would provide them with county benefits from the start.
Dispatchers now are city employees and will switch to county benefits when the new center opens in January.
“I think we can work out something that’s acceptable to all,” Lawrence said, noting the importance of having a full dispatch force.
County Counselor Alan Weber said an analysis of leases affecting a radio tower at 410 N. State St. was being done to determine what effect they would have on its use for dispatch and other county purposes.
“We don’t know what they are and what their provisions are,” he said. “We were an innocent purchaser,” and hoped that any problems that might surface could be handled without litigation.