Each year as the city of El Dorado gets into their budget planning process, they review upcoming capital improvement projects. One of those projects discussed during a special meeting this week was a public safety dispatch system for El Dorado.

Each year as the city of El Dorado gets into their budget planning process, they review upcoming capital improvement projects. One of those projects discussed during a special meeting this week was a public safety dispatch system for El Dorado.

Police Chief Curt Zieman had put together the numbers to do this.

“In the city’s comp plan it talks about doing a feasibility study for the city taking dispatch back,” Zieman explained.

He said the numbers he had put together were probably a little lean and was basically infrastructure, equipment and salaries.

Those costs included $240,000 for the 9-1-1 infrastructure, which also had a $5,000 annual fee for licensing; $60,000 for a multi-line recorder, with a $6,000 annual fee; $20,000 for computer aided dispatch, with a $4,500 annual license fee; $192,000 for two radio consoles; $12,000 for two computers and software; $20,000 for furniture; $24,700 for chairs; $23,000 a year for the county infrastructure yearly maintenance fee; and $262,000 a year for wages and benefits for six officers and one supervisor.

“All in all, it comes up to about $832,000,” Zieman said.

He did point out they would have 9-1-1 funds available to the city but didn’t know what that exact number would be.

The city has used the county for dispatch for 13 years.

Another factor to consider was the Kansas 9-1-1 coordinating council and their 2013-2017 strategic plan shows a next generation 9-1-1, which is for moving from analogue to digital.

“With any major change usually comes major cost,” Zieman said. “We don’t know what kind of impact that would be.”

City Manager Herb Llewellyn said if they did this, they would put all of the equipment into a lease and fund it with the 9-1-1 tax and the only real expense would be labor, which would be 3.5 mills.

“That’s money we don’t have and you would have to raise the taxes to do it,” Llewellyn said. “That’s my opinion.”

Llewellyn said one concern they hear in feedback is the service from the county is inadequate.

“We have had conversations with the county about it before,” he continued.

Llewellyn said when they have contacted the county before what they want to do is give the elected officials a tour of the facility and show they the equipment.

“Somehow they translate great equipment into great service,” he said, adding the city is not getting the great service they would like.

One time, Llewellyn said someone called 9-1-1 and they didn’t dispatch. The city ended up self-dispatching put it took half an hour. In this instance, the county had dispatched someone to the landfill rather than the city compost site.

In fact, city employees have kept track of problems and taken them to the county to show them what they are doing wrong.

“The last time we said ‘we’re you’re biggest customer we ought to get your best help,” Llewellyn said.

This issue first came up when the commission thought the city needed a 24-hour safe haven for people.

“It was about manning the police station 24-7,” Llewellyn said. “We don’t have any work to man that 24-7 so dispatch made sense. That’s how we came to this discussion.”

Mayor Mike Fagg asked how dispatch works now.

Zieman said they dispatch police directly.

“I would probably do things a little differently, but that’s not my area of expertise,” he said. “I think some of the efficiencies could be a little better.”

Currently, the county dispatches everything except Andover and Augusta.

“The state is pushing to only being one PSAP per county,” Zieman said. “We currently have three.”

Because of that he did not think there would be any federal grant money to open another dispatch center.

Another concern was the radios and the fact the county changed their dispatch system to match the state’s Kansas Department of Transportation system.

With that, they had to use Motorolla radios.

Llewellyn said the county paid retail for their radios, but the city bought them for 50 cents on the dollar for radios that were reconditioned. There also is a yearly maintenance fee of $100 to $400 per radio.

Commissioner David Chapin asked if they were saying with their own system the city would save money.

“Not today,” Llewellyn said, “but the way everyone is talking, you may.”

“Common sense tells me to have a dispatch center three blocks from another dispatch center, I say let’s go with working out our problems with that dispatch center,” Chapen said. “That’s my take on it. I could be educated to be on the other side. I’m not seeing where we will really save money anywhere.”

Llewellyn said the whole this is “I like our management better than their management. We’re not recommending it yet today. We just wanted you to have an idea of what it would cost you.”

Chapin said they would be better off just hiring a person to sit in a building from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Commissioner Bill Young wanted to know if any of the concerns were from a safety standpoint for the officers.

Zieman said they could work through all of that with some meetings with the city manager and county administrator. He said they’ve talked about a lot of options they think would solve any problems.

He said if they were going to proceed with their own dispatch there would have to be a lot of discussions and would probably even need a consultant to come in.

In another presentation, the commission heard from Suzie Locke, activities, sales and services manager for the city, about a plan for a community market in the old Home Lumber building. The project was advocated by the Sales Tax Advisory Board and $22,600 was set aside in the previous budget for the project. The commission will probably see this in the 2015 budget as a line item. They also have $10,000 from a windfarm grant through the county for it.

Mayor Mike Fagg questioned if this qualified for sales tax, but he was told it does.

Fagg also was concerned if there was a budget worked up for capital improvements on the building to sustain it.

Locke said the goal would be through the increase in sales tax they would be able to cover any costs.

They also heard about projects at the airport, including a rehab or runways and lighting for a runway that does not have any currently. These will only appear in the budget if the FAA also funds them through the 90-10 match.

Looking at public works, there are upcoming sidewalk projects and KLINK street projects, as well as the residential street program projects.

In the fire department in the upcoming years, they have the purchase of an aerial platform apparatus, as well as a road to the fire training ground near the new fire station and a new command vehicle.

Other projects included park and playground improvements and water improvements, including some regional water improvements if needed.

Julie Clements can be reached at jclements@butlercountytimesgazette.com.