Lincoln City City Manager David Hawker, in a memo to his City Council, recommends that serious discussions begin between Lincoln County communities on how best to consolidate the county’s three separate 9-1-1 dispatch centers. It’s been estimated that the three centers, Lincoln City, Lincom (Newport/County) and Toledo are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year more than if the county had one center. It’s the old “duplication” argument. In Lincoln City, the estimated savings for a consolidated 9-1-1 center could be as much as $300-400,000 a year. And a city of 9,500 can do a lot with an extra $400K every year. No savings estimates have been tallied by the other two cities.
But Hawker says even with those big savings, there are still some sobering disadvantages to consolidating the centers. For one thing, if a consolidated center originated out of the Willamette Valley, to take advantage of economies of scale over there, we’d be at the mercy of mudslides, windstorms, earthquakes and accidental cable breakages. “Re-routing could be very difficult for 9-1-1 services when those things happen,” he said.
If a consolidated dispatch was set up on the coast, Hawker said we might run into political favoritism or other political considerations that could affect the quality of service in some areas.
Hawker seems to favor electronically combining Lincom and Lincoln City dispatch centers with a reduction in workers at both sites but maintaining enough workers to handle call volumes. The Toledo 9-1-1 center would be shut down.
Funding schemes include a (1) possible new 9-1-1 taxing district,(2) funding through a general fund contribution from local communities or (3) contracting with an outside agency and a broad county-wide fee being tapped to pay for it.
But having said all that, Hawker cautioned his city council to go slow. Hawker asked his council to come to grips with the multi-level complexities of any 9-1-1 dispatch system and to fully explore the advantages and disadvantages of both viewpoints on consolidation. He says in his report that these sorts of discussions have been going on since 2004 so it’s probably time to get a sustained analysis underway.Share on Facebook