Waukesha Committee Tours County Dispatch
Waukesha aldermen begin research into joint dispatch with the county. The city currently operates its separate dispatch center in the police department.
The Waukesha Finance Committee is beginning to explore if the city should join the county’s dispatch center instead of having its own operations in the Waukesha Police Department.
No decisions were made when the Finance Committee toured the Waukesha County Communications Center Tuesday night. They did, though, learn that it would cost the city $450,989 to join the county’s operations. An additional $37,540 charge could also assessed depending on how the county’s dispatch center would need to make technological changes to be compatible with the city’s software system.
There is no estimate yet about how much the city would save by joining the county’s dispatch center, according to Finance Director Steve Neaman. The Waukesha fire and police departments are being asked to compile data about the operations and financial costs of the city’s dispatch center. Officials with the fire and police department declined to comment on joining county dispatch.
Alderman Paul Ybarra, who is a member of the Finance Committee, said he would like to see a decision in the first quarter of 2012, but cautioned against putting a timeline on the decision until the fire and police representatives can provide the data.
“I don’t want to rush this,” Ybarra said. “I think it is really important that we get this right.”
In addition to cost, other unknowns are how many city dispatchers would be unemployed if the city made the switch to the county. While the county would have to hire additional personnel to handle Waukesha’s call volume and the city’s dispatchers can apply for those positions, the exact number of positions would have to be ironed out, according to Sherri Stigler, training and operations manager for the county’s dispatch center.
Stigler, who is the wife of retired Deputy Police Chief Mark Stigler, walked the aldermen through a history of the dispatch center as well as highlighted its role in the community. The county dispatch center works with 16 police agencies, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department – including seven contracted areas, and 21 fire departments.
Despite Waukesha being the biggest city in the county, Stigler said the county dispatch center will have the capacity to bring Waukesha into the system. There is strength in numbers, she said, as Waukesha County currently has 15 dispatchers working at the same time. The city’s minimum staffing requirement in the dispatch center is three.
“Financial savings should be substantial, but that doesn’t mean you will be settling for less service, absolutely not,” Stigler said. “I live in the city and I don’t want you to (settle). The residents deserve the best, and we are confident we can meet those expectations.”