High Springs currently contracts with Alachua County for emergency services through the Sheriff’s Office Combined Communications Center (CCC), but this is scheduled to end Oct. 1 when High Springs activates their emergency dispatch center.
“We’re trying to ram this thing through,” Commissioner Scott Jamison said. “This is all stuff we were trying to warn about, and now they’re here. We have to circumvent things. I don’t understand the willingness to do whatever has to be done to do this. It just doesn’t seem like good business.”
Recently the commission has made staffing changes, such as the termination of the former city planner and addition of a city engineer by first making adjustments to the City’s budget.
According to Holley, he required immediate approval because of time constraints related to having the city’s emergency dispatch up and running on schedule. Two employees were required to attend training at the Marion County Public Safety Communications on July 30 and first must undergo physical exams on July 30.
Holley estimated the cost for school, salaries and physical exams at $400 to $500.
“While we are working on the budget, we, as a commission, voted to go ahead with bringing on our own dispatch,” Vice-Mayor Bob Barnas said.
Barnas made a motion to give Holley the authority of the Commission to take all necessary actions to get the dispatch up and running by the Oct. 1 deadline. Commissioner Linda Gestrin seconded, and the measure passed 3-2 with Commissioners Jamison and Sue Weller voting against it.
Holley’s additional request follows his July 17 update about the CAD software, which he informed the Commission would cost $39,000 this fiscal year. To pay for the software, the City will be using money from its contingency funds. Jamison opposed using emergency funds to pay for the dispatch startup costs.
“This isn’t an emergency. This is a purchase of choice,” he said on July 17.
During the Tuesday, July 31 commission meeting, the commission approved by a 3-2 vote to hold two meetings to adopt an amended budget setting aside $167,200 in capital outlay costs for the Communications Department.
The City will finance a Motorola console and APX 7000 radios for $128,000, which are required for the dispatch to become operational. For this budget year, the City will pay $39,200 for the CAD software and $32,190 to add six staff members into the Communications Department.
Weller recommended again against moving forward with the local dispatch, instead offering that the City could hire a person to answer the 415-number and provide cell phones to officers to answer the number after hours.
“Even with drastic cuts in the budget, we are not going to be able to afford the dispatch,” Weller said. “We are in dire straits right now; we will be in dire straits this coming year. Unless you are going to cut out every other department, and you’re only going to have police and fire and no other services, then you might as well hand this over to the County at this point.”
Despite Weller’s expressed concerns and Jamison’s objections, by a 3-2 vote, the Commission approved the measures to move forward with the dispatch.
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