Control, leadership concerns arise in dispatch discussions

By Lisa Treiber-Walter —

While city and county officials seem to agree on combining their dispatch efforts once the new jail is complete, just who will manage the center is still in question.

The sheriff, who currently supervises the county’s dispatch says the system works just fine, so don’t “fix it.”

“We have the ability to take care of everything right now,” he told Gillespie County Commissioners meeting Monday.

Recommended by the 22-member Joint Dispatch Research Committee, however, is that such a dispatch center should be ruled by a board of 11 directors (in an attempt to give all the affected parties — fire, EMS, law enforcement, public utilities — a voice in operations).

Yet county officials also learned from their information technologies employee, John Keller, that even if a board governs the dispatch center, law enforcement still has the final say since, by law, it must be given majority control.

In light of that new information, the differences of involved parties and some concerns brought forward by commissioners themselves, the original committee has been asked to reconvene and come back with further recommendations.

Concerns about control

County Judge Mark Stroeher said that he had three concerns with the committee’s original recommendation.

Stroeher said one problem stems from the fact that the plans calls for city dispatchers to be offered jobs under the county’s authority. Those at the city, however, are on a different pay structure than those working for the county.

 “I do agree the dispatchers should be given an opportunity to have a position here if they want one, but I don’t necessarily agree that we should adopt their pay scale,” Stroeher said, adding that, to do so would be a disservice to other existing county employees.

Stroeher also said he felt that an 11-member joint committee to govern the dispatch center would be too large of a group and, more importantly, “the structure of the committee wasn’t really set out. The recommendation was that we leave it to that committee to determine its own authority, I guess, and I’m not comfortable with that.”

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