UPDATE: The document is now attached above.
STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) - Two emergency dispatch centers across the street from each other will be a thing of the past very soon. The Stevens Point city council approved a joint dispatch center with Portage County Monday night after a lengthy closed negotiation session. Mayor Andrew Halverson says all that’s really left is for the appropriate committees and boards to sign off on this final draft of the contract.
He says the City Council approved the same contract language sent to them by Portage County earlier Monday. “We have a final agreement relating to joint dispatch that the Common Council has agreed to forward to the Police & Fire Commission for their consideration and action. We do not feel from the city’s Common Council perspective that any further negotiations at this time, relating to the final agreement, are required. Proper protocol for us will be to forward that agreement to the Police & Fire Commission.”
He says the city and the county were able to put aside some old differences and work towards a communications solution that works well for everyone. “We’re very happy about this day. We think it’s very historic, and ultimately it does nothing but put public safety as a priority over politics, and I think it’s a great day for everyone.”
The document approved by Stevens Point Monday night now will go before The Police and Fire Commission during their May meeting, then back to City Council for their final approval. Then, the document goes back to Portage County for their final approval. Halverson believes that may require a joint meeting of several committees before the full county board makes the last vote in May or June.
Halverson says what started as a possible January 1st implementation is on a fast track,and will happen much sooner than that. “The document itself calls for an August 4th transition and consolidation into a Portage County communications center.”
Portage County Executive Patty Dreier believes the joint operation will save both governmental bodies and the taxpayers money in the future. Mayor Halverson agrees, but is most pleased with how this will improve efficiencies for staffing and operations.
A joint center will allow the dispatch center to handle high call volumes by having the appropriate number of people on duty based on what’s needed. With Portage County upgrading the 9-1-1 system, a joint center will also allow both units of government to upgrade together, and the city won’t have to make the expensive equipment upgrade on their own.