In 2016, the Grantsville City Council seriously reviewed switching its dispatch services away from Tooele County on the heels of another fee increase.
On Wednesday night, the City Council approved the dispatch fee contract with the county with less than 3 minutes of discussion.
The new dispatch fee contract includes an increase from $118,161 to $124,402, an increase of $6,241 or about 5 percent. In 2015, the city paid $95,139 and was facing more than a $23,000 increase when it met with Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communication Center in June 2016.
The Tooele County Council of Governments seriously reviewed creating a special service district for dispatch, but opted not to move ahead with the proposal during its April 2017 meeting. The proposed dispatch special service district would have cost taxpayers $36.04 on a home valued at $200,000.
The cost per call for service will increase from $14.15 to $15.06 in the 2018 budget. While Grantsville approved its dispatch agreement on Wednesday, Tooele City and other municipalities will review the annual contract in upcoming meetings.
Tooele County Sheriff Paul Wimmer said the past two years have seen minimal increases, with no increases in personnel.
“We’re only increasing it as needed,” Wimmer said. “It’s just, unfortunately, the need varies year-to-year.”
While the number of dispatchers has remained the same from last year, the number of calls for service has increased in most communities. Grantsville City Police Department saw an increase in calls from 7,057 in 2016 to 7,812 in 2017; Tooele City Police Department actually saw a decrease, however, from 19,949 in 2016 to 17,931 last year.
The total number of calls countywide increased by 900 over the past two years.
The dispatch fee is calculated using a population-based base fee and usage fee, based on a rolling three-year average of incidents. The usage fee is determined by the three-year average of incident calls multiplied by the $15.06 fee per call.
In 2018, for example, the Town of Stockton will pay a $944 base fee and a $12,337 usage fee, based on the town’s population and three-year average of 819 calls.
Due to the uptick in calls, Wimmer said he intends to request an additional dispatcher in the 2019 budget. The cost for a new dispatcher, including salary and benefits, is around $80,000, he said.
“I’d like to get another dispatcher on board,” Wimmer said. “So that’s why I always caution even though we had a minimal increase in the budget this year, I can’t promise that from year-to-year.”
Wimmer hopes the cost of the new dispatcher can be at least partially offset by an increase in the 911 surcharge fee, which is charged to phone lines every month. The state Legislature voted to increase the fee from 61 cents to 71 cents in 2017.