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Published: 12/10/2008

Panel sour on shift in emergency dispatching at Waterville

BY ALEX M. PARKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lucas County's 911 Planning Committee balked at Waterville's move to switch its emergency dispatching from the city of Maumee to the county sheriff's office.

The committee voted 4-1 last week on a request from Waterville to change its public-safety answering-point designation from Maumee to the sheriff's office. Sylvania Township Trustee Pamela Hanley voted no.

Waterville pays Maumee about $250,000 annually to provide dispatchers, but the sheriff's office has told the village it could provide the service for free.

Some of the committee members balked at the request, claiming it might lead larger municipalities in the county to also opt to use the sheriff, at a time when county government is asking its departments to scale back.

"How do you have budget cuts and then add service?" asked Tina Skeldon Wozniak, president of the county commissioners and a member of the committee.

Ms. Wozniak said she wanted to reject the request so officials from Waterville and Maumee could have time to negotiate another contract.

Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener also opposed the move, claiming the city's fee was reasonable and that the city had designed new dispatching facilities assuming it would continue to serve Waterville.

He also said he didn't agree that Maumee should have to pay for its dispatching services while Waterville would get its service for free.

Phil Dombey, Waterville's law director, defended the request, claiming it would not affect public safety.

Ms. Hanley said it was unfair to compare a small village to larger municipalities, such as Oregon or Toledo.

After the meeting, Mr. Dombey wouldn't comment about what the village's next step would be.

Waterville Mayor Derek Merrin, who did not attend the meeting, said later that the village would continue negotiating with the sheriff's department for the service.

"Sheriff [James] Telb wants to give us 911 dispatch service for free, and the village of Waterville wants to accept it. It's as simple as that," Mr. Merrin said. "The bottom line is that the sheriff wants to provide us the service and they are making it very difficult for us."

Staff writer Bridget Tharp contributed to this report.

Contact Alex M. Parker at:

aparker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6107.



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