Schenectady County

Schenectady County to redo central dispatch plan

County officials are reworking the financial numbers for the proposed countywide dispatch center to

County officials are reworking the financial numbers for the proposed countywide dispatch center to assume that Glenville won’t participate.

Spokesman Joe McQueen said the county is prepared to move forward on the project without the town, which has raised several concerns about the fairness of the funding model.

“We still definitely believe that a central dispatch system will be better than the current fragmented system. There will be increased safety for the residents,” he said.

McQueen said the finance department is reworking the numbers. “It will obviously not be as great of a savings but there will be savings,” he said.

Glenville was projected to save about $105,000 under the arrangement, according to McQueen. However, town officials were concerned that they were bearing a disproportionate share of the cost.

McQueen said there has been 18 months of back-and-forth discussion with the town and the county has modified the proposal several times. Yet, it was still not good enough.

“Each time we went back with the request that they made, they still said ‘no’ and came back with more,” he said.

The two other towns — Rotterdam and Niskayuna, as well as the city of Schenectady, are still on board with the plan, McQueen said.

Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he is disappointed that the county appears to be giving up on working out something with the town.

“I don’t know why there’s this mad rush to go ahead without us without concluding our talks,” he said.

Koetzle said the county still has a $1 million grant from the Department of State, which it does not have to use until March 2012, so there is no need for this artificial deadline.

“We made it clear we’re here to try to find a way to make this work and we’re open. We anticipate at the end of this that Glenville would be part of this.”

Among some of Glenville’s more recent concerns, according to Koetzle, is that the county should be using dispatch costs for 2010 — rather than 2009 — to determine each municipality’s share of the cost. He said there have been significant changes in how much municipalities spent on dispatching services and that should be adjusted.

Also, Koetzle pointed out there is still no site for the consolidated dispatch center. It is a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario. Koetzle said county officials need to get the advisory committee organized before they can get a site but he would like to know the site before he starts.

In addition, Koetzle said he wants the towns to have some protection over rising expenses, given the limitations of the tax cap.

Glenville and the county did agree that Glenville should receive a credit for having its dispatch equipment used in the new center.

Town officials are also skeptical that the county will be able to decrease the dispatch staffing from about 52 to 42 through attrition and do not like the weighted voting system, which would be based on relative expenses for dispatching costs from each community and money generated from the fee on 911 cellphone calls.

“This is really dispatch service for the towns and the city. Why would the county get a weighted vote? They’re only acting as a platform.”

Koetzle believes that after the grant funding dries up they will be short of funds.

“They can use state taxpayer money to get through the first three years. After that, they’re going to have an operational problem,” he said. “We don’t believe they’ll be able to go forward without Glenville.”

Rotterdam Supervisor Frank Del Gallo said he wants to see what the numbers are in this revised configuration. He hasn’t had any recent conversations with the county about the central dispatch center. “They promised they would bring it to Rotterdam. Let’s see how good their word is,” he said.

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