County board up next in weighing 911 contract

Police briefs

About three weeks after the Hollister City Council approved
moving its dispatch services to Santa Cruz Regional 911, the San
Benito County Board of Supervisors will take their turn Tuesday in
deciding what to do with the service.
About three weeks after the Hollister City Council approved moving its dispatch services to Santa Cruz Regional 911, the San Benito County Board of Supervisors will take their turn Tuesday in deciding what to do with the service.

The decision dates back to October when the board began looking into cutting costs and saving money with its dispatch service. The move is expected to save the city more than $260,000 annually and the county more than $90,000 each year after the two initial years, according to the feasibility study presented in the supervisors packet.

The move has been met with some contention. Opponents have cited a loss of service knowledge –people not knowing where areas are – and a loss of local jobs as reasons not to go ahead with the consolidation.

Supporters have argued that technology will allow dispatchers who are unfamiliar with the area to still inform emergency responders, and current county dispatchers will be offered jobs in Santa Cruz.

Other benefits include offering emergency medical dispatch, which would allow dispatchers to give medical instructions over the phone before emergency personnel arrive on scene, according to the staff report.

The first year of the contract will cost the city and county $391,576. The cost would increase to $444,183 in the next year. The contract automatically renews for four years, unless it’s terminated. The cost also would be shared with San Juan Bautista and Emergency Medical Services.

The county currently spends around $600,000 on its dispatch service each year, according to budget figures.

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