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Posted: 01/16/13

Village trustees approve
of $105,000 911 system

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Village officials decided an updated 911 system and keeping localized dispatch was the best course of action to keep Romeo's citizens safe.
       The Village Board of Trustees voted 5-2 to purchase a new 911 system for the Romeo Police Department at a price of $105,000 in lieu of contracting its dispatch services out to the Macomb County Sheriff's Office.
       Trustees Bob Hart and Christine Malzahn were the dissenting votes at the Jan. 14 meeting.
       Police Chief Greg Paduch compared the costs of maintaining two full-time dispatchers to dropping one dispatcher and contracting with the sheriff's office. He said contracting with the sheriff's office costs $97,271, which brings the costs over the current dispatch budget even with one less employee due to unemployment and hospitalization expenses.
       According to his figures, the current dispatch budget is $236,485, and dropping an employee and contracting would cost around $262,000.
       With the new phone system, including a five-year loan payment at 2 percent interest, Paduch said the total cost is $261,000 with the current staffing. He said if it were cheaper to contract with the sheriff's office, he would still encourage keeping dispatch as it is now.
       "Even purchasing a new phone system, even operating 24/7 under our current personnel it still shows a little cheaper of a number," he said after the meeting. "In the long run I think it was the best decision made for the citizens of our community."
       Hart suggested the village consider cutting the hours of operation to 12-hour days to reduce costs as well as considering hiring a part-time employee to handle clerical duties the dispatchers currently manage if one were released.
       "I still don't think we've seen both sides in an objective view of what that could look like," he said.
       He pointed out concerns like the costs of the new phone system, new union contracts, the possibility of a new headquarters and potential savings by joining a new county dispatch center.
       "We're making a decision for the next dozen years," Hart said.
       Trustee Ron Rossell said there would need to be two part-time employees instead of just one to deal with vacations and the like. Paduch cautioned against limited building hours, saying it eliminates a "safe haven" for people during late hours.
       Trustee Russell Rinke supported the decision to keep the current dispatch, saying it adds to the value and appeal of the village.
       "The Village of Romeo has been here and is the way it is partly because of the village police department," he said.
       Village trustees decided to wait on making a decision on whether the former WBRW studio on Morton Street should become the new police headquarters, saying they want to know when the installation date is for the phone system. If the new headquarters is approved after installing the phone system, it would cost $8,000 to $10,000 to move the system to the new location.
       Village President Mike Lee said he would rather stay at the current location to maintain the staffing as opposed to having a new headquarters.
       "I don't see that as a good way to go," he said.
       Paduch said he has until Jan. 18 for ordering the new phone system. In previous meetings, Paduch said the current 911 system is antiquated and prone to shutting off during power surges. Federal requirements call for updated 911 systems by 2014.


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