February 19, 2014 - Oxford Township officials took a few more steps last week in the process of switching dispatch services for fire and emergency medical calls from the Oxford Village Police to the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.
Officials voted 7-0 to approve a dispatch agreement termination and release document to end the township's relationship with the village for this service.
In order to avoid any lapse in dispatch service, the agreement doesn't take effect until the termination date. Township officials set a tentative termination date of April 1 because that's when the county indicated it could be ready to begin handling Oxford's calls.
"The village agrees to provide dispatch services, as is, to the township until the termination date," the agreement states.
Village officials already approved the termination/release agreement during a special Jan. 20 meeting.
In another 7-0 vote, officials designated the sheriff's office as the Primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) for all 9-1-1 calls originating in the township.
Basically, once the sheriff's office takes over, its dispatch center will receive and dispatch all of the township's 9-1-1 calls for police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS).
All 9-1-1 calls originating in the village will still be answered by the Oxford Village Police dispatch center, however, if they're related to fire and EMS, they will be transferred to the county for dispatching.
The only calls the village center will dispatch are those for its police department and the Lake Orion Village Police Department.
Township officials must still approve and sign a dispatch agreement with the county.
Based on the Oxford Fire Department's three-year average of 1,767.66 calls and the county's fee of $25.46 per call, which takes effect April 1, the township will pay $45,005 for dispatch services during its first year, which would end March 31, 2015.
That's more than what the village was charging. The village dispatch contract called for the township to pay $37,153 this year and $38,268 next year.
Township officials chose to switch services not because of cost, but because the village center is typically staffed by one dispatcher per shift.
The township board doesn't believe that's adequate to handle calls from three municipalities, so in December 2013, it requested the village increase its staffing level to two dispatchers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Although the village disagrees with the township and stands by its single-dispatcher system, it proposed the two governments spend six months analyzing dispatch operations together and conducting monthly meetings regarding issues, protocols and equipment.
The village also gave the township the alternate option of being able to terminate the dispatch contract early without any legal dispute. The dispatch contract wasn't set to expire until Dec. 31, 2015.
But township officials made it clear their position was either the village put two dispatchers on 24-7 or they would switch to county.
In response, the village reissued its previous two-option proposal, which led township Supervisor Bill Dunn, acting in accordance with his board's direction, to send a Jan. 15 letter to the village attorney accepting the termination offer.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.