Tonawanda News


May 10, 2012



If the measure passes, the city will pay the county the entirety of the dispatchers' salaries for the rest of 2012 and through 2013, while that number will decrease by 25 percent each year beginning in 2014, until the county absorbs all costs related to the employees in 2017.

North Tonawanda would pay the county $237,000 for the remainder of 2012 starting on July 1 and approximately $436,000 in 2013. The deal sees NT paying a decreasing amount of the dispatchers' salaries over the course of several years until the county eventually pays the entire share.

Ortt has never waivered from his desire to transfer the dispatchers to the county, saying that taxpayers are paying a double tax of sorts for what could be accomplished by only one level of government.

"We're looking to streamline government," he said. "It took a lot of cooperation from everybody, it hasn't been easy."

Voutour wholeheartedly backs the measure as well, stating that his dispatch outfit at the Niagara County Sheriff's Department in Lockport needed to bring in more employees if it's to continue to absorbing other local police and fire dispatch services. The City of Lockport is presently examining a similar consolidation of dispatch services.

Voutour also noted that due to the technologically sophistication of the county's dispatch system, it makes better sense to go through with the change, while the number of full-time dispatchers working for the county will increase from 18 to 24. Operational costs for the dispatch department prior to adding NT police comes in at roughly $1 million.

"We realize this is somewhat traumatic for them," Voutour said. "We want to make the transition as smooth as possible."

The impetus for consolidation began in 2010 when Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka, who acts as a liaison between the council and North Tonwanda police, met with police Chief Randy Szukala, who told him that the dispatch system in police headquarters was near the end of its life. 

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