By Tammy Gray –
A proposal to create a regional dispatch center is still being considered, with the Navajo County Board of Supervisors recently agreeing to spend an additional $5,000 for more meetings and studies.
“They wanted to build on and answer some other questions the entities had in the cost allocation,” Navajo County Manager Jimmy Jayne explained.
He noted that no firm decisions have been made yet about whether to proceed with a regional dispatch center, but those involved have already spent money to help study the feasibility of such a center.
Serious discussion of consolidating dispatch services has been going on for the last two years. Those included in the discussions include Holbrook, Snowflake/Taylor, Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Petrified Forest National Park, Navajo County and most fire districts throughout the county.
According to Jayne, there have been two phases of discussion and study, and now the entities have decided more information is needed.
“At the end, the decision was made by the whole team to continue the process, and they asked for additional information,” Jayne remarked.
Jayne noted that so far, costs for the study have been shared by the entities, based on a percentage of their public safety budget.
He noted that the main questions being resolved are whether consolidating emergency dispatch services would save money, and if the consolidation would improve service to citizens.
“The main premise is, can we do something more cost effective while providing enhanced public safety services?” Jayne said.
A consultant has been creating reports that detail how much each entity is currently spending on emergency dispatch services and how much they would likely pay for consolidated dispatch services.
According to Jayne, the discussion remains at the staff level because more information is needed.
“There’s ongoing discussion with town managers and myself and with the fire districts to see if it’s financially and practically doable,” he said.
If the consolidated dispatch center moves forward, it will have to be approved by city councils, fire district boards and the county supervisors. Jayne noted that it is too soon to make presentations to such decision-makers.
He also pointed out that no decisions have been made about potential locations or oversight of the facility.
“Those questions have yet to be answered,” he said. “The discussion now is, is this do-able? Once that’s answered, then we would need to discuss things like do we build a brand new facility or use an existing public facility, should the decision be made to move forward.”
Jayne noted that all of the entities involved have shown their commitment to finding answers to the remaining questions.
“All of the entities have made a decision to move forward and keep looking at it,” he said.