Results from a state conducted assessment of the Richmond 911 Dispatch Center were released on Friday with suggestions of combining dispatch centers with Ray County 911.
Police Chief Terri McWilliams will give a presentation on the report at the next City Council meeting Wednesday night.
The city decided in October of 2005 to make the split. Then Mayor Tom Morman and McWilliams said they could provide services cheaper than what they were paying for.
The city told Ray County Commissioners that the system was not fair because they footed 55 percent of the center, while none of the outlying communities paid anything for dispatch service.
According to the report prepared by State Information Security Director R. D. Porter, the city was contributing $122,500 each year to the combined 911 center. In 2007 the Richmond Dispatch Center handled 1,625 calls. Porter estimates that the arrangement cost the city more than $75 for each dispatch call. In 2007 the Richmond dispatch center’s cost per call volume came in at $21.97. However, County 911dispatch handles all cell phone calls within the county. By some estimates this call volume accounts for 40 to 50 percent of all calls.
“I agree with the city in that it is not cost effective to have a joint dispatch facility at that cost,” Porter said in the report.
However, it should be noted that the Richmond Police Department operated out of the dispatch center as part of the agreement.
Since the split, Ray County 911 collects about $65,000 a year from other county public safety jurisdictions.
Another issue that led to the split was control over the operation. The sheriff’s department said they ran the dispatch center because all of the equipment belonged to the county while Morman said the city paid for the employees.
Now the county 911 center is run separately from the sheriff’s department with its own budget.
Unlike the county system, the city dispatch center does not receive money from a dedicated tax, but rather is funded through the city’s general revenue fund and is a budgeted amount.
The 2008 budget for the Richmond dispatch center was $178,000 and the County 911 dispatch budget was $197,000.
In the county’s 911 assessment, call volume was at more than 11,000 in 2007 and cost per call volume was $11.67.
Porter went on to make a recommendation that the city approach the county with a contract offer that, “is more reflective of the actual cost that Ray County is providing that service.”
Porter cited throughout the report that technology advancements and other restrictions would make it harder for the city to produce the services any cheaper than they are now and costs per call will only increase.
A full report of the audit will appear on Thursday after McWilliams gives her report to the city council.
In addition to the presentation, the city will discuss and perhaps make a final decision on the changing of the meetings for the council and mayor. A new schedule of meeting on Tuesday nights instead of Wednesday nights went through a first reading at the last council meeting. In addition it would change the first meeting of the month to a work session with the second meeting of the month serving as the formal meeting.