Oregon braces for 911 consolidation operations

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday voted for Maumee Mayor Rich Carr to represent the city on a 911 planning committee. As a possible designee on the committee, he is expected to vote against the Lucas County Board of Commissioners’ plan to merge and consolidate 911 operations. Oregon is opposed to consolidation.
        Lucas County has proposed consolidating all Lucas County 911 dispatching operations into a single entity, which includes six primary PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) currently operating in Lucas County hosted by the Lucas County sheriff’s Office, Oregon, Maumee, Sylvania Township, Sylvania and Toledo.
        The plan calls for all 911 dispatchers from across the county to move to the emergency services building in downtown Toledo.
        A 911 planning committee, set by law, will have the final say on consolidation by a vote from its five member board. The committee consists of Tina Wozniak Skeldon, president of the board of Lucas County Commissioners, who will serve as chairperson. Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz as the  Chief Executive Officer of the most populous municipal corporation in the county (City of Toledo);  John Jennewine, as a member of the board of township trustees of the most populous township in the county;  a member of a board of township trustees selected by the majority of township trustees in the county; and Chief Executive Officer of a municipal corporation in the county selected by the majority of legislative authorities of municipal corporations in the county. Carr is a candidate in that category to represent municipalities on the planning committee.
Done deal
        Lucas County and Toledo have expressed their support for 911 consolidation. With the vote by Sylvania Township Trustees on Oct. 1 in favor of consolidation, it seems certain that the proposal will be finalized.
        “In the past week, Sylvania Township trustees passed a resolution in favor of the 911 consolidation plan,” said Councilman Tim Zale.
        He said council should vote to designate Carr to fill the category of Chief Executive Officer of a municipal corporation to represent Oregon and other municipalities on the planning committee.
        “He has declared he will vote against the 911 consolidation,” said Zale.
        He suggested passing a resolution in favor of Carr.
        City Administrator Mike Beazley said passing a motion instead of a resolution would be better.
        “I think if we just simply make a motion that he will be our designee, the minutes of our meeting will be our record that he will be our representative,” said Beazley.
        “From what I’ve heard from Mayor Carr, and through our Council President Dennis Walendzak, Mayor Carr does seem to be sincere in opposing 911 consolidation,” said Zale. “Therefore, I propose a motion designating Mayor Carr as our representative for this purpose.”
        The motion was approved.
        “I had a long conversation with Mr. Carr,” said Walendzak. “He was adamant in his stance that he will vote no on this if he’s designated as the representative for the cities and villages.”
        Lucas County Commissioners have been pushing consolidation, believing it would be more efficient and save money.
        Oregon council passed a resolution in June in opposition to the plan. “Oregon has a long history of providing quality dispatch services to police and fire with a highly trained staff that is dedicated to the city,” states the resolution. “It is the nearly unanimous consensus of the city’s dispatchers and police officers that the citizens of Oregon have become accustomed to a level of personal service that could not be maintained with the 911 consolidation.”
        “I still believe, even when I see the final draft of the consolidation report that came out, that there’s no way we’re going to regain the personal service that we have right now,” said Zale. “To our citizens, and particularly to our police officers, I am very, very concerned about this. And I will continue to be. I realize if this does pass, we’ll find a way to work through it. I just don’t think it will be as efficient, That’s my opinion, coming from my background with the city,” said Zale, a retired Oregon police officer. “I have concerns also about the employees who aren’t going to work here anymore. I know they’re all going to be given jobs. But we gave them jobs as dispatchers here and they had a certain quality of life they expected to be able to retire with. I know they’re not happy by going down to the 911 facility if this does go through. I think people move to a place like Oregon, Maumee and Sylvania because they like the level of service that community has. And we don’t have a say in that. Our citizens don’t have a say in that. I know how the system works and how it was designed. I know we passed a resolution opposing this. But the way the vote was set up, it does look at this moment that it will go through.”
        Walendzak called the consolidation plan a “mixed bag,” as communities vote for or against the proposal.
        “Each community is doing it for their own personal belief. The sentiments you expressed are shared by me and other council members,” Walendzak said to Zale. “We’ll make the best of it. We’ll make it work. We always do.  We will still seek the best for our community. Even though we’re opposed to it, we have to make sure the best can come out of it for our city.”


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