An agreement between Niagara County and the City of North Tonawanda for the county to take over NT police dispatching duties appears close.
Niagara County Manager Jeff Glatz updated the legislature's community safety & security committee on broad terms of a proposed Intermunicipal Agreement that would have the county take over North Tonawanda's civilian police dispatch work by July 1.
The agreement, which is not yet approved by the NT Common Council or the Legislature, would have the county take over employment of six civilian dispatchers currently working for the city. Over a period of five years, the city would pay decreasing percentages of the dispatchers' pay and benefits, roughly estimated at $400,000 a year. The first two years, the city would pay 100 percent of the costs, then 75 percent in year three, 50 percent in year four, and 25 percent in year five. The dispatchers would become county employees immediately, would retain their seniority and, per Civil Service "transfer" rules, would be protected from layoff throughout the term of the agreement, Glatz said.
The county and city jointly are pursuing a $400,000 state grant to help defray costs of the dispatch "consolidation." The grant would reduce the city's payments to the county, according to Glatz.
North Tonawanda is contemplating going with county-central dispatch in part because its radio system is obsolete and needs costly upgrading. Mayor Rob Ortt has spoken at length about the desire to cut costs at the city level for a service he sees as duplicated at multiple layers of government.
The plan was first proposed last year and faced stiff opposition from the union representing the dispatchers. After initially being shelved for further discussion, Ortt created a committee that includes union leadership, one of the dispatchers who would move to the county and city police brass.