New Port Richey City Council members are talking tonight May 14, about the idea of doing away with city-run dispatch for emergency services.
Assistant Pasco County administrator Michele Baker, Col. Brian Head from the Pasco Sheriffs Office, and Jody Kenyon, Pasco’s emergency 9-1-1 operations manager, are presenting the idea of merging the city’s dispatch services with the county’s at a council work session tonight at 7 p.m.
The merger could cost the city $36,166 in its first year, but the city could realize $90,283 annually in costing savings each subsequent year.
The city would lose its ability to perform independent dispatch services under the merger. Pasco would offer the police department’s full-time staff jobs with no loss of salary or seniority; according to a memo from city fire rescue chief Alex Onishenko.
Merged dispatch could result in several improvements, according to Onishenko’s memo. The list of possible improvements includes:
- One call taker handling the dispatch for multiple agencies
- Improved response times and fewer dropped calls
- The merger could also lead to improved safety for police, fire and emergency rescue responders.
- It could lead to new or improved technology and also lead to information sharing among agencies.
The New Port Richey Police Department has provided 9-1-1 and non-emergency dispatch services to the city since the agency’s establishment, according to the memo. The agency handles dispatch for police, fire rescue, public works and code enforcement. The police department also foots the cost of the service through its department budget.
Earlier this year, Pasco County Commissioners approved a plan to merge the emergency dispatch services for the Sheriff’s Office and Pasco County Fire Rescue into one call center. That call center is set to become a reality Oct. 1.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco had been an advocate of the merger. All of Pasco’s cities have been invited to merge with the county.
Sheriff’s Office spokesman Doug Tobin said that if city leaders were to decide to merge with the county dispatch, Nocco would support it.
Right now, a Pasco County Fire Rescue dispatcher already answers all 9-1-1 calls made by a cell phone or wireless device, including those made in the city limits, and then routes them to the city police department.
Calls made from a landline are currently answered by the police department dispatch service.
City Council members cannot vote at a work session, but they can give direction and guidance. They are not required to take public comment, but they can if they want.
Want to attend the meeting? It starts at 7 p.m at City Hall, 5919 Main St.
What do you think? Should New Port Richey merge its 9-1-1 operations with the county? Tell us by commenting below!