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My Way

Half is better than nothing

June 02, 2010 - With the coming debate over dispatch services, Oxford Village officials would be wise to remember the old saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

At the June 16 Oxford Township Board meeting, representatives from the village and Oakland County Sheriff's Department are expected to state their cases as to why they should provide fire/EMS dispatch services to the township.

The village has been handling these services via contract with the township for 10 years.

Unfortunately, the village's price is way too high in these times of shrinking property tax revenues.

This year's dispatch services will cost the township $60,181. Last year, the township paid $58,428.

The money comes out of the Oxford Fire Department's budget.

Now, the sheriff's department claims it can provide dispatch for $30,199 in the first year of a contract and $31,109 in the second year. These quotes are based on the department's call volume from the previous two years.

Those prices don't include the additional $3,000 per year the township would pay for a phone line between the county dispatch center and fire department base station.

Now, I'm not going to get into an emotionally-charged debate over whose service is better because frankly, I think either the village or the county can do the job just fine.

Over the years, I've firmly supported keeping village dispatch because I felt the service was superior to the county's center, which had some bugs to work out in my estimation.

However now, I believe that most of the time, both dispatch centers do a great job and could equally serve the township in an efficient and professional manner.

As with everything in life, each of them can point to examples where the other has performed in a less-than-perfect manner.

Each of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. I'm really not interested in hearing all of the stories about how each has screwed up from time to time.

What interests me and township officials is the dollars and cents.

Fact is, right now, the county is the township's best choice to save a ton of money and still provide a vital service to its residents.

But there is a way the village could keep its contract lower its price to equal the county's, not one penny more.

When you add up the county contract plus the phone line, the cost is $33,199 for the first year.

All the village has to do is equal that price and I see no way the township board could possibly vote to switch dispatch providers.

If the township voted to go with county under those circumstances, it would be a decision based purely on politics, not logic.

The village could go even lower and quote the township the county's exact price sans the phone line charge

Yes, either way the village would be losing about $27,000 to $30,000 in annual revenue, but I ask you, which is better gain half or lose it all?

Get rid of all the over-the-top emotion, pride and ego that usually surrounds this debate and the choice is clear the village can either drastically reduce its price or lose its only customer to the county.

Sounds like a pretty easy decision to me

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.
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