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911 dispatch seems to be lone stumbling block

August 04, 2010 - The lawsuit between Oxford Village and Township in regards to the old Oxford Police and Fire Emergency Council (OPFEC) could soon be over.

At the July 26 council meeting, the Village agreed to accept most of Oxford Township's offer.

Village Council members voted unanimously to accept some of the items that the township offered the village.

Council Member Tony Albensi made a motion to accept the four points from the township offer.

The first point the Village accepted were no "pay as you go" or usage charges and that the Township and Village residents pay the same millage amount.

The village also accepted the township's offer to sign over the deeds to the Village for the old Township Hall, located at 18 W. Burdick, the old fire station located at 22 W. Burdick, along with any and all parking associated with the building.

The village would enter into a five year dispatch agreement at the new lower rate (approximately $34,000 for the first year and a three percent increase each year thereafter).

They also accepted that the Township could add a "just Cause" clause in the dispatch contract that would enable the Township to opt out if certain criteria was not met.

"I think that as a person that thinks in those terms, it is a good idea for both of us," said Village Council President Teri Stiles.

That criteria centered around the formalized training being completed, the dispatch system being updated and that all said documentation would be spelled out and provided to the Township on an annual basis.

She asked Albensi to include in his motion an opt out clause be worded in the Dispatch Contract with the Township so the Village has the opportunity to opt out as well.

The Village would also accept the cash transfer of $50,000 from the Township.

The main sticking point for Council was the addition that 9-1-1 calls would go through Oakland County Dispatch instead of going through Village Dispatch.

Council member David Bailey was opposed to having the 9-1-1 calls go through county.

"Where I live, I look out my second floor window and I can see Fire Station Number One and it seems silly to me, if I see a flickering yellow light with smoke coming out of it that looks like a brush fire on the grounds of Fire Station Number One and I call 9-1-1 and it goes to Pontiac," Bailey said.

Council Member Maureen Helmuth agreed with Bailey that the 9-1-1 calls should stay within the Village.

Oxford resident and former councilmember Sue Bossardet agreed with the council members.

"I do agree that it makes no sense having landlines going to Oakland County because I would hate to think that I would be sitting in my living room and I would have a fire in my kitchen and I want to report it and that call goes to Pontiac to be dispatched out here," Bossardet said. "That makes no sense to me."

Township Supervisor Bill Dunn stated that "it was at the request of one of the township trustees that it would be added."

Council asked if the Township would go back and revisit their part of the motion they adopted.

Dunn admited he did not put his full attention into the ramification of the motion for the 9-1-1 calls to go to county, "It was added at the last second and I think that a lot of us wanted to move on and didn't look at it that close," he said.

However, he added he would definitely reconsider the point and talked with other members who would be willing to reconsider as well.

"In our motion, we said it would have to come up on our next township board agenda, and if things come up and we start to get close, I would not hesitate to call a board meeting and discuss it before the Aug. 11," he added.

During a public hearing on the offer, Village resident and former councilman Steve Allen said the Village should take it.

"After looking at this offer and having been involved with it for a number of years, is it the greatest thing in the whole world? No. it's no -- but the single greatest thing about it is it would be over and done with," he said.

"I don't think now would be the time to get obtuse with this thing because this thing has been obtuse since the first day that it started. It is a reasonable opportunity to settle this thing," Allen added.

Bossardet agreed with Allen.

"This has gone on long enough. I disagree with some of the points that have been brought up, but I would like to remain hopeful that the Township Board and the Council could work out something so this can be over," she said.

"For me personally, as a resident and as a council member, I think that when this economy does rebound, this is prime piece of property this village could be sitting on," said Albensi.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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