By Ed Runyan
By today, dispatching operations for police and fire calls for the village of Newton Falls are expected to switch from the village’s own dispatching center to the Trumbull County 911 center.
It marks the third time this year that a county community has agreed to consolidate with the county 911 to save money. The county took over dispatching for Liberty earlier, and Hubbard comes online in mid-October.
County commissioners are expected today to approve a memorandum of understanding between the county and the village in which the village will pay $52,850 annually for dispatching services from the county.
John Kuivila, Newton Falls police chief, said the switch is expected to save the village $100,000 per year.
“I’m hoping everything will go well,” Kuivila said of the change. “I would prefer to have our own dispatchers, but the economic times of the city are not allowing for that.”
Two of the village’s full-time dispatchers have been hired to work at the county dispatch center. The village had three full-time dispatchers and five part-timers.
The village began using an automated system for nonemergency calls to the police department a month ago. It gives the caller the option of being directed to various parts of the police department, such as administration.
It also allows the caller to select an option for “community events” to learn about trick-or-treat hours and the like.
The dispatching center in Lordstown is planning to become a “satellite” operation for the county with a county computer station in their dispatch center, said Ernie Cook, director of the county 911 center. Girard is thinking of becoming satellite as well, Cook said.
The dispatch centers in Warren and Niles are backups to the county center.
In other business, commissioners say there will be no immediate action taken regarding county Engineer Randy Smith’s request to be exempt from the county’s new policy regarding donation of sick-leave time to co-workers.
The policy was created after an employee in Smith’s department with cancer said Smith was refusing to allow her to use sick time donated by a co-worker, despite workers in many other county departments being allowed to receive donated sick time.
Commissioners put a countywide policy in writing last week but said elected officials such as Smith could ask to opt out of the policy, which Smith did.
Commissioner Paul Heltzel said commissioners have asked the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s office to ask the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to give the county a legal opinion on whether the commissioners can allow Smith to opt out.
The commissioners will wait to hear back from the attorney general before deciding what their next step will be, Heltzel said.