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January 10, 2013

Combined dispatch talk heats up

WASHINGTON — The year 2013 might be the year where city and county dispatching are merged into one center.

Daviess County Sheriff Jerry Harbstreit discussed the option of creating a central dispatching center during Wednesday’s Daviess County Council meeting.

Harbstreit told the council he has been in preliminary discussions with Washington Mayor Joe Wellman on creating a central dispatching center that would handle the needs of both city police and fire and county emergency services.

“You all asked me that during budget hearings and I have been talking with the mayor on that,” Harbstreit said. “They are interested in that.”

Wellman confirmed the discussions. Right now, the city police department takes 911 calls made in the city, while the county handles 911 calls made in the county and all cell phone calls. Both dispatch their respective police departments and Southwest Medical EMS ambulances, but only the city can dispatch the Washington Fire Department.

Harbstreit said the combination of dispatching would save both county and city government money.

Currently, the county pays for two dispatchers for the city.

“We all do the same thing anyway and it would be governed by a (city-county) board,” Harbstreit said.

The discussion on the central dispatch started after the council approved an additional appropriation of $465,279 for the county’s dispatch center.

The funds were already budgeted and most come from state reimbursements.

Harbstreit said he will continue to have discussions on the central dispatching.

“If we do it, (the city and county) need to get together and do it right,” Harbstreit said. “We need to form a committee.”

Additional appropriations

As is the usual custom, the council had several additional appropriations for the first meeting of 2013. One appropriation included $244,301 from repairs to the south breach of the Bennington Levee. The funds will be paid from the county’s Riverboat Fund.

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