Toledo’s 9-1-1 dispatch center is bidding in competition with Willamette Valley Communications (WVC) for the contract to dispatch U.S. Forest Service workers in coastal counties. Not for fire, just standard forest management communications. WVC submitted a bid for the same contract last month. Toledo officials say they’ll have their bid package into the Forest Service’s Springfield office by early next week.
Head dispatcher Maria Waldrip told News Lincoln County that if they win the contract, they’ll have to hire an additional dispatcher but that those costs would be covered in their bid.
WVC recently pitched the Toledo City Council pretty hard to join with the rest of the county (not including Lincoln City) in contracting with WVC for police and fire dispatch services. The Toledo City Council was cool to the idea except for councilors Larry Davis and Jack Dunaway who wanted the possibility explored in greater detail. It appears that they’re now more in alignment with the other councilors who clearly want to keep dispatch services local.
However, Toledo’s decision to keep their own 9-1-1 services does have a cloud over it to the extent that the state’s dispatch subsidy, in the long run, may someday go away thereby making the city pay the full cost. The state has been evaluating a comprehensive study that strongly urges the state to collapse its 49 9-1-1 centers down to 9 as a move toward efficiency, cost effectiveness and technological adequacy. The state Office of Emergency Services points to Oregon State Police, which uses just two dispatch centers for the whole state, adding that it’s working very well. However, as we saw in the latest run up to disbanding Lincom in favor of WVC, local feelings, local control and local politics have a big influence on how 9-1-1 dispatching is viewed.
If the state moves ahead with dispatch consolidations it would likely take the statewide 9-1-1 tax with them. Losing what amounts to 20 to 40% of total revenue for 9-1-1 could make hold-outs like Toledo re-assess their situation. State and regional officials close to the situation indicate that although the legislature is interested in discussing statewide 9-1-1 consolidation, an acceptable plan, and a systematic way forward on it, is far from clear.
So, for the time being, Toledo, with it’s advanced level of dispatch technology doesn’t appear to be in for any immediate changes. In fact, as mentioned above, Toledo is vying to expand its dispatch services to include Forest Service non-fire dispatching.