A consolidation of emergency dispatching services for Lake Township, the villages of Millbury and Walbridge, and cities of Rossford and Northwood would be a better format to meet changes for the 9-1-1 system being planned by the state, according to Mark Hummer, township police chief, who has presented the results of a feasibility study on consolidating the services to local elected officials.
In his presentation Tuesday to the township trustees, Chief Hummer said a state steering committee report to the Ohio legislature says the 9-1-1 system is due for an overhaul, including the implementation of what is called Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) technology that is able to take calls from a wide range of digital media and a review of current funding models.
A recommendation of the committee calls for the development of incentives to reduce the current number of Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) (dispatching centers) to a more optimal level for NG 9-1-1 service, the chief said, adding a bill pending in the legislature would reduce funding for PSAPs in counties by half until each county complies with the limitations, Fees on mobile phones and land lines are used to help fund dispatching centers.
If the bill becomes law, Wood County will be allowed to have three PSAPs by 2018 to qualify for state disbursements. There are currently eight: Lake Township, which provides contracted dispatch service for Millbury, Walbridge, and Rossford; the cities of Bowling Green, Northwood, Fostoria and Perrysburg, Bowling Green State University, Perrysburg Township, and the Wood County Sheriff’s Department.
“It would be a very expensive endeavor with no additional funds from the state,” the chief said.
Consolidation of the Lake Township and Northwood dispatching centers would provide a more “seamless” flow of information between jurisdictions and first responders, he said.
Such a move would also increase the number of staff on each shift without increasing the total full-time staff.
This year, Lake Township anticipates spending about $290,871 for dispatching operations and Northwood about $331,423. A preliminary estimate of combined operations in 2014 is $635,000, excluding costs for building renovations, and using Northwood’s current bargaining agreement with employees.
One model for allocating costs would be to base them on the populations of the member entities:
Millbury – 5.5 percent
Walbridge – 13.8 percent
Northwood – 24.2 percent
Lake Twp. (unincorporated area) – 27.5 percent
Rossford – 29 percent
A merged dispatching center could be overseen by a council of governments with representatives from each member entity.
Chief Hummer said elected officials will be asked to decide if they want to proceed with the proposed consolidation by the end of the year. If they authorize proceeding, a council of governments could be formed by March 2014 and the transition to a consolidated system would start by next summer.
Representatives from each entity have been meeting since 2007 to discuss a merger of their systems. Last year, they received a state grant of $87,840 to conduct a feasibility study of the proposal.
Chief Hummer also presented a report of the study to Walbridge and Northwood officials on Wednesday and Thursday respectively and planned to make a presentation to Rossford officials on Monday.
Northwood city administrator Bob Anderson, who attended the trustees’ Tuesday meeting, said consolidation was a concept “we should look at.”
Ed Ciecka, Rossford administrator, said the state proposals mean “there is a change that is going to happen.”
Millbury mayor Michael Timmons also attended the trustees’ meeting.
If consolidation proves to be a success, other jurisdictions in northern Wood County such as Perrysburg Township or the City of Perrysburg could be invited to join, the chief said.
Underlying the state changes is a report from the Federal Communications Commission to Congress that addresses regulatory issues for adopting NG 9-1-1.
Lower speed limit
Lake Township trustees Tuesday agreed to request a speed study for a section of Lemoyne Road after several residents complained of motorists racing along the road.
The speed limit is 55 MPH but the residents, who live near the Lemoyne/Ayers Road intersection, are seeking a 35 MPH limit. The road is also used by joggers, the residents said.
Jim Hicks told the trustees his dog was hit by a motorist driving a pick-up truck.
The trustees said they don’t have the authority to change speed limits but will ask the Wood County engineer to proceed with the study – the first step in seeking a lower speed limit.
They also said they’ll research whether or not they can establish a no-passing zone for that stretch of the road.
Township police on Wednesday from 6-11 a.m. conducted what the chief called a “saturation patrol” on Lemoyne and issued two speeding citations: one to a driver going 63 MPH in the 55 MPH zone and one to a driver going 35 in a 20 MPH school zone.
There were 255 total vehicles traveling on the road during the blitz.
In other business, the trustees opened two bids from Republic Services and Waste Management for refuse pick-up service for 2014. A contract will be awarded at the trustees’ next meeting.