Portage County joint dispatch center costs released - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Portage County joint dispatch center costs released

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

Officials now know how much it would cost to merge the Stevens Point and Portage County dispatch centers.

There's been talk for a while about combining them, but some aren't too excited about the plan.

Portage County is one of only 13 counties in the state with multiple dispatch centers, but county officials want to change that.

"When you're in trouble – you really don't care what it says on the side of your fire truck – you don't care what color uniform the officer is wearing – you just want help," said Chief Deputy Daniel Kontos, Portage County Sheriff's Department.

The two dispatch centers operate across the street from each other.

Sheriff's officials say one of the main problems with having two dispatch centers is not being able to share information easily.

"The same people that have a history of carrying weapons or being resistive or combative… we can't really share that information right now. The files just don't appear in each other's systems," said Kontos.

According to the Portage County Sheriff's Department, it would cost $552, 000 annually to merge centers, along with some startup costs.

But Stevens Point officials like having their own dispatch center.

"One of the added dynamics of this conversation really is the autonomy that we prefer to handle dispatching of our protective services the way we feel we want them to," said Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson.

Still, they're open to talking.

But if a joint dispatch center even became a reality, the city may need to hire more employees.

"From the city's perspective, there are some drawbacks. Our dispatchers do quite a bit more in addition to just dispatching. They function as community service officers. They do fingerprinting. They pick up abandoned bicycles. They do a lot of administrative paperwork types of things," said Sally McGinty, Stevens Point Director of Emergency Management.

City officials say they're willing to discuss a formal proposal once it's made.

The Portage County Sheriff's Department says it's now up to the county board to come up with a proposal so both sides can take a further look at the plan.

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