WVCC turns down Lincoln City’s offer to join a regional 9-1-1 system while keeping Lincoln City’s 9-1-1 system active – but talks continue
The future of 9-1-1 service in Lincoln City has hit a rough patch with Willamette Valley Communications Center (WVCC) based in Salem. But both sides continue to exchange ideas and negotiate how 9-1-1 service can continue in Lincoln City at a far lower cost than their current local dispatch center.
Lincoln City officials recently offered to join WVCC as long as WVCC maintained a “live” 9-1-1 center “somewhere” in Lincoln County, Lincoln City preferably, of course. But the proposal was turned down by the WVCC Board saying that the prime directive is to consolidate services to cut costs and improve efficiencies in dispatching for the whole area. The board pointed to the widespread trend of 9-1-1 consolidations across the country including Oregon. Oregon State Police have only two dispatch centers for the entire state.
WVCC Director Mark Bucholz says what his board may be interested in talking about is having a “back-up” 9-1-1 center somewhere in Lincoln County that would not be manned unless connections to the valley were somehow interrupted, as in a very major storm or an earthquake. Buchholz said such a back-up system could be activated on the coast that could take over local 9-1-1 services until connections to the valley were restored. Bucholz said WVCC already has such a location in the Salem metro.
Questioned about the status of negotiations between Lincoln City and WVCC, City Manager David Hawker said negotiations with WVCC are still open and all options are still on the table. Police Chief Steven Bechard says Lincoln City has had a long and trusted working relationship with WVCC in that they provide “in patrol car” computer information services and police and criminal records management for the city via computer line to WVCC.
Hawker and Bechard recently informed their city council that the city could save upwards of $300,000 a year if they could find a way to join WVCC as Newport, the county and many local fire districts have already done. Hawker has said often in the past that Lincoln City needs to cut costs and enhance revenues to keep the city moving forward. 9-1-1 savings and annexing Roads End have been characterized as part of that strategy. The city is also in the middle of designing a new police station. They’d like to know whether to include a back-up or live 9-1-1 dispatch area in those plans.
To be continued…