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Mayor resists moving Girard's 911 services



Published: Fri, July 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The new chief is 'dead set against' moving the city's dispatching services.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

GIRARD -- Calls to city officials from Liberty Township to join their 911 system are going unanswered for now, the mayor says.

The city will not be contracting dispatching services with another agency anytime soon, Mayor James Melfi said.

"I want to give the new police chief some time to manage the department first," Melfi said, noting that Frank Bigowsky will be sworn in as chief today.

Bigowsky said he is "dead set against" moving the dispatching services.

"I will do everything humanly possible to keep the dispatch center here in Girard," Bigowsky said. "I believe our center is more advanced than Liberty's, and I think we owe it to the citizens of Girard to keep the dispatching right where it's at and not move it outside the city."

Resident input

The mayor added that the decision on whether dispatching services get moved rests with the residents.

"If the tax is successful in the fall the dispatching will most likely stay local, if it doesn't, we may merge elsewhere," Melfi said.

Council members voted earlier this week to place a quarter-percent income tax for police on the November ballot. The money would help raise about $375,000 a year for the department.

The mayor noted he also was not sold on Liberty's offer.

"The price was a little high," Melfi said.

Pat Ungaro, township administrator, sent a proposal in March to Melfi offering 911 services for an annual cost of $95,000.

"Well, this is how the process works," Ungaro said. "If the offer we make is not acceptable but the interest is there, then they could make us a counteroffer."

Ungaro said he has not heard anything from Girard since he made the offer.

Figures

Girard spends $188,000 annually to maintain its service with three full-time personnel. The city also is paying a police captain to fill in or cover shifts when the dispatcher is unavailable. Last year the city received 2,515 calls to 911.

Trumbull County commissioners also have said they will be asking communities such as Liberty and Girard to join the county 911 system.

Liberty's four full-time and four part-time dispatchers took 3,404 emergency 911 calls last year. The township quit the county system in 1998.

Ungaro has said that he believes Liberty's dispatch center is a better choice for Girard. He noted that if Girard chooses to use Liberty's 911 center it would also be able to use the township's holding cell facilities.

He noted that Girard's initial cost to enter the county 911 center would be $180,000 plus a monthly fee.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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