TRUMBULL COUNTY 911 chief: 2005 funding isn't enough
Gladis said he might have to admit the county can't afford the department.
WARREN -- Trumbull County's 911 director says he may tell county commissioners Monday that they didn't give his department enough money to stay in business.
"I just don't think it's mathematically possible," said Tim Gladis.
Commissioners decided to allocate $1,141,400 for 911 operations this year. That compares with $1,756,000 in 2004, he said.
The county's funding for 911 is combined with money from local governments -- $400,000 last year -- to fund 23 dispatchers and four supervisors.
This year's budget would mean laying off 19 employees -- eight were already lost last year -- and leave just two dispatchers on duty per shift. They would be able to take only the most critical calls, Gladis said.
Currently, personnel answer phones hundreds of thousands of times each year and handle everything from simple information requests to crime scenes, fires, explosions and traffic crashes.
The 911 center serves 23 fire departments, 15 emergency medical services and 16 police departments. It dispatches more than 13,000 fire and EMS calls per year and more than 71,000 police calls per year, according to its statistics.
"The reality is, if I have only two people per shift, that's not going to be enough to handle the call volume," he said.
Gladis said he might have to admit to commissioners that Trumbull County can't afford the agency, and recommend its dollars be given to another department, such as the sheriff's department.
Gladis and other department heads and elected officials will appear before county commissioners next Monday through Thursday to discuss the budget cuts, some of which are 40 percent deep. The commissioners want them to say how money can be saved, and to make staffing comparisons with departments in other like-sized counties.
The commissioners expect the county's general fund to be $32 million or $32.5 million for 2005. That's about $6 million to $7 million less than what was spent in 2004.
Sheriff Thomas Altiere has already furloughed 27 employees and ended northern Trumbull road patrols.
The sheriff's department will meet with northern Trumbull County townships at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Mecca Township Hall. The department warned last week that it won't be able to patrol these areas.
The individual townships, however, can sign and pay for individual contracts with the sheriff for service.
"This [meeting] is just to kind of come up with different ideas," explained Ernest Cook, chief of operations.
Gladis noted he would support an additional county sales tax earmarked specifically for law enforcement and 911.
The commissioners on Wednesday did appoint six members to what eventually will be an eight-member Citizens Budget Review Committee. The committee will participate in next week's budget meetings and report back to the commissioners with its thoughts and recommendations.
Its members so far, said to represent citizens from all aspects of Trumbull County, are John Robertson, director of institutional research at Kent State Trumbull Campus; Nickolas D. Bellas, truancy officer for Warren schools; Timothy J. Thomas Sr., Bette Daily, Charles L. Joseph and Atty. Rodger L. Dixon.