Lucas County officials announced the benefits of the Location Based Response System at a press conference in the Government Center lobby Monday.
Tuesday, county commissioners talked about the new response system and the merger of two county agencies at a public meeting held in the City of Oregon council chambers.
County Administrator Peter Ujvagi said the LBRS system is a point-to-point GPS system that will provide faster emergency service to the county. Ujvagi added that Lucas County is the first urban county in Ohio to implement the system.
The response system is expected to contribute to public safety and efficient delivery of services to all of Lucas County, said those in attendance at Monday’s press conference. Speakers there included Lucas County Engineer Keith Early, Auditor Anita Lopez, Commissioner Carol Contrada, and EMS Director Dennis Cole.
“This represents a vital improvement in response time for all first responders and will significantly impact the safety and well-being of all Lucas County residents,” Contrada said.
The commissioners added in a statement that “never before” has the county’s “police officers and firefighters had such an effective tool to respond quickly and accurately to emergencies. Additionally, the system will be used to reduce redundancy in data collection by different city and county offices, therefore saving precious taxpayer dollars.”
Initiated by the state government, county officials say LBRS “promotes public safety, more efficient emergency response, roadway inventory, crash analysis, and census enumeration.”
Data collection has concluded that will align Lucas County with 75 other participating counties, establishing a partnership between state and county government for the creation of spatially accurate street centerlines with address ranges and field verified site-specific address locations for counties’ geographic information system. Contrada said at the Oregon meeting that even fire hydrants were mapped.
The LBRS project was initiated by a need of the Lucas County 911 emergency services for new GIS data, specifically routable street centerlines and address points to be used by their new Computer Aided Dispatch System.
Other offices involved include the county engineer, county auditor, and the City of Toledo, which worked together for mapping purposes. Digital Data Technologies, Inc. was hired and collected the data for Lucas County to be delivered to the LBRS team.
“This process helps provide more accurate and safe services, a perfect example of an efficient and effective way to save taxpayer dollars by eliminating duplicative efforts,” Commissioner Pete Gerken said.
Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak added, “Accurate, readily available information is imperative for local governments to provide quality services to citizens.”
Dealing with budget cuts
Commissioners held a special meeting Tuesday afternoon to launch the next phase of a merger of Job and Family Services and the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Wozniak said the merger would be complete in January or February of next year. She said the merger is an effort to deal with budget cuts.
“The board of commissioners is continuing an effort to be more efficient in county government,” Wozniak said during the morning meeting in Oregon. “Mergers are important tools to use to create efficiencies.”
An employee leadership team of both agencies presented to the commissioners their strategy to produce an implementation plan to combine the organizations and create a unified new agency.
“A successful merger involves the creation of a well-run, highly integrated organization. I am confident that we have the right team in place to better serve our clients and communities,” said Wozniak, adding that those who need services frequently work through both agencies.
Job and Family Services and the Child Support Enforcement Agency share approximately two-thirds of the same clients. Both agencies are mission-focused on improving the lives of children and their families. This consolidation creates new opportunities for joint programming while increasing efficiency and effectiveness, a statement states.
Commissioners say the sequence of merger preparation has been carefully planned.
Employees from JFS/CSEA were joined by staff from other county departments to form teams called integration workgroups that are organized by functional area and tasked with developing area specific integration plans.
The four integration workgroups are management, staff, program, and communications. The staff leaders from each workgroup, called “champions,” spoke about desired outcomes and receive feedback from the commissioners.
“Our decision to merge was the culmination of years of planning by the staff of both agencies. I have been involved with many members of labor and management as we participated in numerous meetings to reach a consensus among impacted employees. Lucas County has increased the potential of a successful merger by undertaking this extensive period of analysis. This process has been intentional and inclusive,” Commissioner Wozniak said.
The commissioners took a first step toward implementing the merger on July 1 with the appointment of Deb Ortiz-Flores as director of the Child Support Agency in addition to her position as director of Job and Family Services. This began the administrative unification of both agencies, say commissioners.
On September 27, commissioners approved a resolution that formalized the intent to merge JFS and CSEA on October 31. As a result, the state will provide a new grant agreement for the combined agency for approval by the commissioners. On January 1 or soon after, it is expected both agencies will be approved by the state to become one legal entity.
“The merger will present opportunities for increased efficiencies and timeliness in both service provisions as the sharing of case information. The merger combines a unified coordination of services along with a shared marking and outreach effort which should result in increased public access to services,” said a statement released by the commissioners.