After opposing turning over the township’s 911 operation to Trumbull County’s 911 Center, the Liberty police union has now thrown its weight behind the idea.
Police Patrolman Ray Buhala, president of the Liberty branch of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said because Liberty would have to increase taxes in order to keep the township’s 911 center, the union now supports the move.
Buhala said the concerns with response time, which in the past was one of the factors police had against closing the local 911 dispatch center, are no longer there.
“Not with today’s technology,” Buhala said.
Both he and Police Chief Richard Tisone said the digital mapping dispatchers use at the county 911 center are now compatible with the mapping technology in the Liberty police cruisers.
“Everyone wants an in-house dispatcher,” Tisone said. “But we’d have to raise taxes in order to do that. And that’s not something we’re willing to do.”
The Liberty 911 dispatch center now costs more to operate than what the five-year, 1.25-mill levy that funds it brings in.
In 2011, Liberty dispatch cost $302,000 to operate, but the levy brought in only about $280,000, officials said. For 2012, the cost of operating the 911 center will increase due to staff pay raises.
In the next month, the trustees are looking to pass a resolution that would end that 1.25-mill levy a year early and instead place on the November ballot a 0.45-mill issue that would pay for the county 911 services. If passed, the levy would cost about $15 a year for a property valued at $100,000.
Trustee Chairman Stan Nudell said the contract is not yet complete but expects the county to charge Liberty $85,000 a year. As part of the deal, the trustees are seeking a three-year freeze on what Trumbull County charges them. Nudell said the county also may buy some of Liberty’s equipment, which would offset some of the cost of the initial year.
The opportunity to make the move is perfect now because the Trumbull County 911 Center is willing to hire all four Liberty 911 dispatchers, trustees said.
“Those jobs may not be available if we wait a year,” Nudell said.
Nudell said Ernie Cook, the county 911 administrator, will speak at the next trustees’ meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the township administration building.