Just months after North Tonawanda union members ferociously objected to a plan to move the city's police dispatch service to Niagara County, it appears the venture is moving forward.
While the city and the county were close to an agreement last fall in the final hours before the 2012 budget deadline, dozens of police officers as well as most of the six police dispatchers employed by the city pitched a desperate, last-minute campaign to halt the consolidation.
That led the city council to take six-month hiatus from what looked to be a unanimous backing of the plan, with consolidation set to take place at the beginning of this year, when council members cited the need to to gather additional information and hash out a more thorough strategy.
The council and Mayor Rob Ortt returned to the issue almost immediately, renegotiating with Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour, the county legislature and the CSEA Local 832, which represent the six dispatchers.
At issue is an antiquated dispatch system used by the North Tonawanda Police Department, which would cost roughly $300,000 to $500,000 to replace and still not be as technologically advanced as the county's, according to Ortt.
Now, with a new plan of attack and an about-face from the CSEA to support the move under new terms, it seems the shift is all but certain.
While the consolidation measure still must pass a vote in the city council and the legislature on Tuesday — it was unanimously approved by the county's administration committee this week — the new arrangement would send all six dispatchers to the county rather than merely three, which was part of the blueprint last fall. All of them would receive about a $3,000 raise, travel stipend and buyout of unused vacation time. They also would become members of the Niagara County Deputy Sheriffs Association Union and would have guaranteed job security for the term of the inter-municipal agreement.