As the Merced County Association of Governments pursues consolidation of police and fire dispatchers in the county, Los Banos Police Chief Gary Brizzee continued to voice skepticism over savings for his department from the plan.
MCAG Interim Executive Director Marjorie Kirn said that she planned to ask her group's governing board this week if it wanted to continue with dispatch consolidation. It is believed that having one dispatch center would reduce staff countywide from 75 to 56 and save $1 million per year in staff services. There was no word before press time on MCAG's action.
Brizzee said he doesn't believe consolidation is in the best interest of Los Banos.
"If you're looking at a normal consolidated dispatch, yes, it's a good idea, but I don't think we can get a substantial financial decrease in expense," Brizzee said.
He said taking away the 10 dispatchers in Los Banos would leave openings elsewhere in his department that would create added cost to his budget.
"It's kind of a unique position we're in. Our dispatchers are the hardest-working people in the department with all the jobs they do, they are our jailers, they write reports, they answer the business phone after hours," Brizzee said.
He said it's too early to say if Los Banos would participate in a countywide dispatch. But Brizzee said he's been vocal in expressing his doubts.
In April, MCAG agreed to spend $40,000 to hire a firm to create an implementation plan for consolidated dispatch. The firm, Santa Cruz-based Belcher, Ehle, Medina and Associates, in November presented a plan in which the design of the consolidation starts this year and the countywide dispatch begins operating in 2016.
Kirn said the plan would take time to implement because agreements need to be in place among agencies affecting facilities, equipment and personnel.