Ohio counties stop exploring countywide dispatch center
Elected officials concluded that creating a joint dispatch center would result in higher operational costs, estimated between $100,000 and $150,000 a year
By Jack Rooney
The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio
WOOSTER, Ohio — Elected officials from Wooster, Orrville and Wayne County said Friday they are ending discussions about forming a countywide emergency dispatch center after determining that combining 911 services would not save money.
Mayors from both cities and the Wayne County commissioners concluded that creating a joint dispatch center would result in higher operational costs, estimated between $100,000 and $150,000 a year, they said in a prepared statement. The officials have been exploring the possibility since June 2018.
Moving the current Wayne County dispatch center and the Wooster-Ashland Regional Council of Governments center, which also dispatches for Orrville, to a new location also would require a one-time cost estimated between $425,000 and $525,000, according to the statement. That estimate does not include the cost of renovating one of the two existing dispatch centers to accommodate the combined facility.
"We worked on this for about 18 months to try and see if we could make this work, and in the end we weren't able to come to any conclusion that it would be an additional savings for any of the entities," Commissioner Sue Smail said Friday.
Though the consolidation talks will stop for now, Orrville Mayor Dave Handwerk, who initially called for the groups to explore unification, said he's still hopeful the entities can find a way to combine dispatching services in the future.
"The door is certainly still open, whether it's something that is revisited in a few years or 10 years," Handwerk said. "... I think somewhere down the road that it's going to happen, or it should happen."
Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman added that the meetings between city and county leaders over the past year or so have been congenial, leaving options open for future talks.
"I'm pleased we've all worked very hard to rationally look at a combined center," he said. "But the numbers have sort of ruled the day on it."
Leaders from Wooster and Orrville met with the commissioners several times to examine how a countywide dispatch center would work. The most recent of those meetings took place in June. Over the course of those meetings, the location, funding and governance structure of a joint center emerged as the biggest issues standing in the way of its creation.
The mayors and commissioners said in their statement that they remain satisfied with their existing emergency dispatching services, and are committed to continuing to ensure that both dispatch centers can communicate with each other effectively.
"We are all dedicated to the safety of our communities both now and into the future," they said in the statement. "As always, we will evaluate and review any ideas that may help improve our efforts in this matter."
©2019 The Daily Record, Wooster, Ohio