McKeen, Monaghan: What's the hurry on dispatch study?

Two commissioners question timing of Sandusky-Perkins study, but Ferrell says it's not the county's business What's the hurry
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

 

Two commissioners question timing of Sandusky-Perkins study, but Ferrell says it's not the county's business

What's the hurry?

That's the question some local officials are asking after a committee released a study suggesting Sandusky and Perkins Township police departments merge dispatch services immediately.

Two Erie County commissioners said Friday it doesn't make sense to rush into combining Perkins and Sandusky police dispatch efforts when the county is about to study combining emergency dispatch services across the county.

But a third commissioner, Tom Ferrell, says it's up to Perkins and Sandusky to decide what to do, not the county commissioners.

A chairman of the Sandusky-Perkins study, Richard Brady, replied that his panel answered the question put to it: Whether it would make sense to place the two departments in a joint headquarters and merge their dispatch operations.

The six-page feasibility report, issued by an eight-member committee that included four Perkins and four Sandusky members, envisions that the two communities would continue to operate separate police departments.

But it says the two would gain needed space and useful efficiencies by combining operations in one facility.

The report estimates that the land and a building with 20,000 square feet of space would cost about $5 million and suggests having Sandusky pay 70 percent of the cost and Perkins 30 percent.

The two departments could save $200,000 a year in personnel costs by operating a joint facility, the report says.

The report says the ideal location for the joint police station would be on Perkins Avenue between Campbell Street and Milan Road.

It offers the former Ames building in Perkins Plaza as a possible location, although Brady says the panel isn't trying to do site selection.

"By no means are we recommending the Ames building," Brady said.

The two departments should merge dispatch operations immediately at the Perkins Police Department, which has the most modern dispatch technology, without waiting for a new police building, the report says.

Immediately merging dispatch "can serve as a precursor to a completely combined facility," it says.

The report was submitted by Perkins Township committee members Donald Bass, Richard Schuster, Patrick Shenigo and James Smith and Sandusky members Brenda Alexander, Brady, Eugene Kidwell and Janice Warner.

The panel from the two communities agreed unanimously on all of the recommendations, Brady said.

Commissioner Bill Monaghan said it makes no sense to merge the Sandusky and Perkins dispatch operations when the county is about to perform a regional study.

"There may be some money being spent that doesn't need to be spent," Monaghan said.

"I think it's ridiculous to combine it now and then turn around and combine the whole thing later," Commissioner Nancy McKeen said. "Why would you go to all of that expense now and turn around and go to that whole expense later? It makes no sense to me. I would hope cooler heads would prevail."

Ferrell, chairman of the commissioners, said the commissioners have no control over those political bodies.

"Whatever they want to do, that's their decision," he said.

Brady said there's nothing in the report to prevent the county from carrying out its study.

"We don't view those two efforts as mutually exclusive," he said.

McKeen questioned the timing of the report.

"They are trying to push that through before the new trustee takes over," she said.

Next month, newly-elected Perkins Township trustee Jeff Ferrell takes office, replacing Tom Pascoe, who is retiring.

Schuster, one of the Perkins members of the study committee, said the timing of the report was a coincidence.

"We just happened to complete it now," he said. "That's just the way it turned out."