A committee of county and city representatives discussing the future of a central dispatch operation is holding pat for the time being. The most recent committee has been meeting for months and does not appear to be close to a recommendation.
“We’re still awaiting studies that have been requested,” said Daviess County Sheriff Gary Allison. “Those studies are being done by Baker Tilly, and we are not expecting them until after the first of the year.”
Baker Tilly is the accounting firm that used to be called Umbaugh and Associates that both Daviess County and the city of Washington use for financial analysis. Officials have requested the study to get a good feel on how much the change might cost.
“We are going to meet with them and discuss who is going to pay for what and what the amount will be based on,” said Washington Police Chief Todd Church.
Central dispatch, combining the county and city communication centers, has been a topic on and off for years in the city. The latest rendition has been in committee meetings for two years.
“We believe this will save money in the long run and make dispatching more efficient,” said Allison. “We just haven’t been able to come up with an agreement because the devil is in the details and we have not yet worked them out.”
Allison says the county has made some changes during the last couple of years that now has their dispatch center capable of directly dispatching both ambulance and the city fire department. The one thing the county cannot do is directly dispatch the police department.
“We still have to put the PD calls on hold and transfer them to the city,” he said.
Daviess County’s dispatch center receives all 911 calls in the county, and with fewer people using landlines, the incidence of reports through the sheriff’s department is growing.
“Minutes count in these situations,” said Allison. “The combined dispatch could get the responders there more quickly.”
Allison says he does not believe politics is involved with the slowed down decision. Washington is in the midst of a municipal election.
“I think both of the mayor candidates are fine with the joint dispatch,” said Allison.
Both Republican mayoral candidate Diana Snyder and Democrat candidate David Rhoads have expressed support for a joint dispatch.
The other thing that appears to have slowed the process is that both the county and the city are in the midst of building budgets. City officials say they feel they are making progress but with budget season here it only made sense to back off on coming up with an agreement.
“We are progressing and moving forward,” said Church. “We just wanted to hold off because we’re all working on our 2020 budgets. We didn’t want to rush the budgets and this gives us some leeway.”
Allison says he was not worried about the budget timing.
“If we could have had the study done on time I could have had a budget,” he said. “I had one I was working on and then we put it aside. Hopefully, we can have a budget next year at this time, if we can just work out the details.”
“I am optimistic it can happen,” added Church. “It will more than likely be after the first of the year. I know we have worked on this for years, but these things require time and to get this worked out will take a little time.”