County threatens to stop dispatch service without new agreement

The Scotts Bluff County Board has informed the 11 communities it serves with emergency 911 and dispatch service the county will drop out of the 23 year inter-local emergency dispatch agreement in December unless a new agreement that funds equipment upgrades is reached.

A letter to be mailed Tuesday says the county did not get the proper response from the communities last year when they asked them to contribute financially toward updated equipment and related software. Most communities provided 50% of what was requested by the county. Commission Chair Mark Masterton says the county has been providing free service since 1990 but things have changed as the cost of needed technology has spiraled. Masterton says after the initial suggested investments through fiscal 2015, the amount should be quite a bit less for maintenance.

The board asks that the amount suggested in the letter, which is based on population, be paid by October 1st if the communities want to continue receiving 911 and dispatch services after that date. Under the suggested breakdown, Scottsbluff would pay 41% of the annual cost for upgrades, Gering 23% and the County 22%, with the smaller communities splitting up the rest of the cost.

Scottsbluff City Manager Rick Kuckkahn says splitting capital improvement funding while still getting 911 service is "a great deal" and he will be recommending the council sign the proposed agreement. Gering Mayor Ed Mayo said you can't play "Russian Roulette" with 911 service and he will recommend the Gering council also approve the agreement.

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