GREENVILLE — Greenville City Council’s Finance Committee will recommend that City Council finance improvements to the city’s emergency dispatch services as opposed to having Darke County take over the services, it was decided during the committee’s meeting Friday morning.
Chairman Tracy Tryon, Vice Chairman Doug Schmidt and Member John Hensley convened the meeting to discuss not only the dispatch issue but also funding for HVAC and roof improvements for various city buildings and financing for street paving.
In the afternoon before Tuesday night’s council meeting, Darke County Commissioner Matt Aultman had presented council with a revised proposal providing parameters for a three-year agreement with the city for the county to take over all emergency dispatch functions at no cost to the city. A motion to table an earlier ad hoc committee report from June 28 recommending the city not accept the offer was voted down during that session.
From the outset, Hensley objected to any discussion on Aultman’s proposal during the committee meeting, saying, “The purpose of this committee is to look at the financing, not whether or not we’re going to do it. The thing that the council has voted is we’re doing it, we’re going to keep our dispatch. Now it’s to find out if we can find the money to do that.”
Tryon asked, “You would not consider this proposal at all?” to which Hensley replied, “No, I would not.”
City Auditor Roxanne Willman said a general bond retirement fund being paid off at the end of the month will provide the city a balance of $262,335 which could be put toward new dispatch equipment or for other uses.
Commissioner Aultman addressed the committee, saying he and Darke County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker had met June 23 with Hensley and City Safety/Service Director Curt Garrison to discuss what the city would like to see if an agreement could be drafted. On previous occasions, the city had sought a more formal agreement, asking for assurances that if the city gave up its dispatch it would not be charged in the future as well as settling on processes for grievance resolution.
Aultman said the short turnaround time from the June 28 ad hoc committee meeting to Tuesday’s council meeting and the July 4 holiday did not leave much time for council members to review a revised proposal.
Schmidt said, “This discussion’s been going on for months and given ample opportunity to put together everything. Been told numerous times it wasn’t going to happen. We’re not going to put anything into an agreement. Not going to happen. Crystal clear. So coming back at 3:30 the day that we’re getting ready to vote on our committee report…I understand your time crunch but we have a time crunch also.”
Aultman asked the committee how council could justify the expenditure of $1.2 million over the next three years for dispatch equipment and operations.
“Three years? Then what happens after that? Are we going to pay more than $1.2 million?” replied Hensley. “Most assuredly we will, mark my words.” Hensley, however, said he’d be willing to listen to a proposal for a 20-year agreement.
“Would you ever enter into a 20-year agreement for personal business?” Aultman asked.
“People do it every day when they purchase a home,” Hensley said.
“Purchasing a home and managing staff and business is two different things,” said Aultman.
“We’ve chosen the path we want to go down and just continue on our path,” Hensley responded. “We are already funding our dispatch. It’s a question of whether we are going to upgrade our equipment and we’ve found the solution in the interim in which to do that. So I think we need to go and proceed down the road.”
“I think we can have cooler heads and say ‘Let’s listen,’” said Tryon. ” I don’t agree with the years and some of the other points [of the proposal]. I wanted to get some discussion with the safety/service director, the police chief, and the fire chief to find out what their take was on it.”
“I just think we need to move forward. We shouldn’t leave this thing hanging. We have a solution to where we can include it into a bond and move on,” said Hensley. “We have resources available.”
The committee will recommend the cost of dispatch upgrades be included in a bond with the city’s plans to upgrade HVAC and fix the roofs of the Municipal Building, Fire Department and Annex.
Estimates for upgrading the HVAC system includes $36,500 for engineering and design and $455,625 base bid estimate for installation. Alternate bids could exceed $186,000. Garrison said the roofs of the buildings need replaced due to termite damage, at an additional estimated cost of $70,000 to $80,000, and performing the HVAC work should be performed before roofing. In all, the city may spend upwards of $750,000. If approved, both the HVAC and roof upgrade projects will be put out for bid.
The committee also recommended that council approve additional funding for the city’s 2017 street paving projects, which came in approximately $225,000 more than the original estimate of $725,000.
Council will vote to accept or reject the committee’s recommendations at council’s July 18 meeting.
“I wish we could have given [the proposal] more consideration,” Tryon afterward told The Daily Advocate. “The memorandum was not acceptable as it is, but it was a start. Council is trying to do its due diligence. We went with what was given to us from the get go.”
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