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Portage County, Stevens Point continue joint-dispatch center talks today


STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) -  The concept of merging two police and fire dispatch operations into one is not new for Stevens Point or Portage County. Now, it seems a lot closer to becoming a reality.

Portage County is preparing for an enhanced 9-1-1 upgrade, and they just moved their dispatch center into newly remodelled space Friday. County Executive Patty Dreier says this may be the best time for the city and the county to come together, potentially saving each governmental body money while making a single efficient emergency communications center.

Dreier says a lot has happened in a couple of months, and she believes the two sides are close. “We have a letter of intent, that’s a formal letter from the City now to the County that says that they intend to go forward as we move through the fine-tuning that still needs to happen between now and the next few weeks and months, but we’re in a position much closer than we were only a little while ago.”

If both sides agree, Dreier says there will be some fine tuning of the arrangements as they deal with things like incorporating both staffs or their benefit plans. “There will be work teams set up, for example, if we were dealing with the financial details or if we’re working with the human resource details, those respective staff members of each of our bodies will be joined together to work out the particulars, and then each of them will come up with their recommendations up through those various bodies as we continue to move through the other fine tuning of the arrangements.”

The Portage County Finance Committee will be discussing the joint dispatch contract during it’s 7:00 a.m. meeting Monday. The City of Stevens Point will discuss the progress and what’s next in a special City Council meeting Monday evening at 5:30 p.m. and again during the Finance Committee meeting at 6:35 p.m.

Dreier says she’s optimistic this can all get worked out to the satisfaction of both units of government, but there is an “out clause” if they can’t reach a deal.