Shared dispatch agreement passes in city and county
The North Tonawanda Common Council passed a resolution to enter into an Intermunicapal Agreement (IMA) with Niagara County and transfer the current six city dispatchers to the county, where they will operate dispatching duties, including those that come from the City of North Tonawanda, from the newly built, state-of-the-art facility in Lockport.
Initially, North Tonawanda Mayor Rob Ortt was approached by North Tonawanda Police Chief Randy Szukala who advised the Mayor and Council that the current dispatch system had reached the end of its serviceable life and required a total upgrade. The cost of the upgrade would have been between $300,000-$500,000. In an effort to save costs, the Mayor and Council began looking at the alternative: transferring the dispatch function completely to the Sheriff's department. The City moved its fire dispatch function out to the Sheriff's department in 2006.
On board with the changes were Niagara County Sheriff Jim Voutour, Niagara County Legislator Paul Wojtaszek, North Tonawanda Common Council President Rich Andres and Councilman Eric Zadzilka.
After discussion and detailed research between all parties, which was conducted to ensure both governments were making the best decision in regards to public safety, both the council and the legislature approved the intermunicipal police dispatch agreement Tuesday.
Last year, the county passed a resolution allowing County Manager Jeff Glatz to enter into formal negotiations with the city, for the purpose of producing a contractual agreement.
According to the county, the police dispatch system in North Tonawanda has become “obsolete” and is in need of costly upgrades.
The agreement states it is necessary to create six full-time sheriff dispatcher positions at the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, effective July 1. Six North Tonawanda Emergency Dispatches will become county employees through a transfer, filling the positions.
The employees will be at step three of the salary schedule, making $20.20 per hour, which represents a raise from their current rate of $20.04.
Niagara County currently dispatches five local police agencies, 28 volunteer fire departments, two ambulance services and the North Tonawanda Fire Department. The facility also provides local law enforcement with access to the New York Statewide Information Network and the National Crime Information Center.
In other city news:
• North Tonawanda was awarded a Boating Infrastructure Grant in the amount of $686, 919 from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which will be used for improvements to the marina at 1000 River Road. The common council passed a resolution for Ortt to enter into an agreement with New York State in order to move forward with the grant process.
• North Tonawanda was awarded a grant in the amount of $574,500 from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation for the Webster Street Grant Infrastructure Improvement project. The city is required to match the grant award at a minimal cost of 10 percent or $57, 450. The common council passed a resolution to match the grant award with the minimal cost.