Red Willow County commissioners agreed Monday morning to almost double the county's cost of dispatching the sheriff's department through the City of McCook Public Safety Center's dispatch center.
The county now pays the city $24,000 annually for dispatching sheriff's officers between 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends and holidays. That cost will increase to $44,620 over the next two years.
City Manager Kurt Fritsch and McCook Police Chief Ike Brown presented information and figures to commissioners Monday morning explaining that dispatching for the sheriff's department amounts to 15 percent of the dispatch center's workload. Total expenses for the dispatch center are estimated at $297,469; 15 percent of that figure, $44,620, is the county's share of operation costs based upon percentage of usage, Brown and Fritsch told commissioners at a commissioners' meeting July 21.
Commissioners asked at that meeting that the increase be spread over two years, a request granted by city council members, Fritsch said Monday morning. "It's not our intention to gouge you ... to hold you up," he said.
In three years, Fritsch recommended, the city and county should work together to determine an annual fee increase, if necessary, in advance of each government's annual budget work.
Commission Chairman Earl McNutt admitted that increases are certainly not uncommon. "These services have to be paid for," he said.
Red Willow County Sheriff Gene Mahon strongly recommended that he, Brown, Fritsch and representatives of other emergency agencies within the county meet quarterly to assess dispatching services. Mahon said that he would like to include office personnel and dispatchers at meetings twice a year. Fritsch agreed, concluding, "The more we sit down and discuss things, the better."