Public Safety

McHale seeking $75,000 for ongoing 911 call center consolidation work

Two proposals up for discussion

Communications operator Ashley Hill works the dispatch center at the Marion Police Department in Marion, Iowa, on Thursday, August 10, 2017. Hill has been at dispatcher with the department for 10 years. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Communications operator Ashley Hill works the dispatch center at the Marion Police Department in Marion, Iowa, on Thursday, August 10, 2017. Hill has been at dispatcher with the department for 10 years. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MARION — Marion Police Chief Joseph McHale will ask the Linn County 911 Board for $75,000 for consultant work as Marion, Cedar Rapids and Linn County continue to move toward consolidating two or more of its 911 call centers.

The 911 board is scheduled to meet on Thursday and discuss the two proposals from FE/Kimball, the consultant group which conducted a feasibility study on Linn County’s three public safety access points and determined the county is a good candidate for consolidation. The two proposals cover two possible scenarios: a full consolidation of the Linn County, Cedar Rapids and Marion PSAPs or a partial consolidation involving only Cedar Rapids and Marion. Both possibilities have a cost ceiling of $75,000, according to documents sent to the Marion Police Department by FE/Kimball.

“Now is kind of decision time on who wants to move forward with progressing the discussions,” McHale said.

McHale has been pushing for full consolidation since last year and has referred to it as his top public safety priority. He and Cedar Rapids 911 director Charlie McClintock have said full consolidation will lead to a more efficient delivery of 911 services and create cost savings down the road when three entities are not having to purchase multiple pieces of equipment. However, Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner has said he believes the dispatchers in Linn County are already dispatching effectively. He also has concerns about the costs of a shared facility.

Now, McHale said he wants to know which public safety entities in the county want a seat at the table as consolidation discussions progress. If the $75,000 is approved, the consultants would help guide the second phase of the consolidation process that would include dialogue on what the facility would look like and how it would be governed.

The $75,000 would come from $400,000 the county 911 board had previously set aside for consolidation efforts, McHale said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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