Brodhead to study costs of city's 911 dispatch center

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Neil Johnson
Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BRODHEAD—If the city of Brodhead is considering nixing its 911 dispatch center, the cuts are not on the table for next year's budget—at least not at the moment, city officials said.

Despite local rumors and an unsigned email circulated this week that claim the city plans to gut funding or get rid of its 911 center altogether, Brodhead Police Chief Thomas Moczynski says the city has the center's staffing and operations included in its 2014 budget.

However, Moczynski said, the city Public Safety Committee on Nov. 6 plans to discuss the costs of running its own 911 center versus the potential of outsourcing some of the operations, including the center's Brodhead Elderly Emergency Monitoring Service, which serves nearly 80 clients. 

At a city council meeting this week, the council brought up 911 call center funding as a “talking point,” Moczynski and aldermen Brian Schimian and John Bernstein said. The council took no action.

“At this point, it's more of a study,” Moczynski said.

Brodhead, Monroe and the Green County Sheriff's Office all have their own 911 dispatch services.

Brodhead's 911 dispatch center is staffed and open 24 hours a day. It is housed at the city's police station, is staffed with four full-time dispatchers and four part-time workers who handle emergency calls for police and the Brodhead Fire Department and EMS.

Staff at the dispatch center also handles administrative duties such as police report filing, and the center also functions as an after-hours call center for city utilities.

Moczynski said the center gives the city a high level of local control over 911 calls in its jurisdiction, but that comes at a cost.

“I like the concept of having a local dispatch, of having a dispatch for public safety. But as always in the budget climate these days, all cities are looking at doing the cost-benefit analysis,” Moczynski said. “I see a lot of advantages, but at some point, the city is looking at the cost effectiveness."

The city's 2014 draft budget, which has not yet been approved, includes $274,311 for center staffing.

Phone service for the center costs $10,600 this year, according to budget figures.

An unsigned, emailed flyer obtained by The Gazette this week claims the city is considering “eliminating” its dispatch center.

Among the impacts of that plan, the flyer says, would be suspension of vehicle registration or renewals, dissolving of the elderly emergency monitoring system and lack of emergency access to the police department lobby after business hours.

Officials said another rumor circulating is that the city is considering contracting 911 services to the sheriff's office or another agency.

Schimian said the city has not begun to discuss closing or outsourcing the dispatch center.

“As of now, last night, preliminarily, there are no changes. The dispatch services in Brodhead are still in the budget. There are no official conversations happening within the city that I'm aware of to farm out services,” Schimian said. 

Yet Schimian confirmed that if the city did angle toward contracting out some of its services, it would have to consider the impact to the public's access to the department, including access to the police lobby during overnight emergencies.

He acknowledged if the city outsourced its dispatch, it could mean an end to the senior emergency alert system. Residents would have to go through a private alert system.

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