First-rate communities constantly focus on the basics of safety, security and providing essential services in a cost-efficient manner. Kirtland currently has the opportunity to improve public safety and simultaneously save taxpayer dollars.
Pending before City Council is a proposal for Kirtland to follow the lead of many other cities by consolidating our emergency dispatch operations. By partnering with our neighbor, Willoughby, Kirtland will save over $300,000 per year for the operation of dispatch services. The proposal will also enable the creation of two additional full-time police positions, resulting in a net savings for Kirtland taxpayers of $800,000 over five years.
Concerns have been expressed about the impact of consolidating dispatch. The fact is, Kirtland is behind most other communities in moving in this direction. Rapid changes in technology, resulting in cost increases, have led many municipal leaders to recognize the value of spreading those costs among multiple users. In fact, the pooling of resources allows for continued investment in technology and other resources that provide for even better services. Cities that have already moved to centralized dispatch include Chagrin Falls, Waite Hill, Willoughby Hills, Hunting Valley, as well as many others (see list below). There is no evidence that the quality of service is reduced or that response time is impacted. Interestingly, four of the five safest cities (Broadview Hts., Rocky River, Olmsted Twp. & Poland Twp.) in Ohio have regionalized their dispatch.
These decisions are not taken lightly. However, our city needs to be willing to adapt and, when appropriate, do business a little differently. Quite frankly, perpetuating “business as usual” due to an unwillingness to evolve in a rapidly changing world is a disservice to our taxpayers.
The Administration has spent hours examining alternatives. Both Chiefs support the proposal to partner with Willoughby. Council has now had three meetings and heard many hours of community feedback, all of which were a valuable opportunity for us to listen and learn. While we may not all agree, it’s time to make a decision in the best interest of the entire community.
This plan will remove personnel from behind desks at City Hall and add to the police presence on our streets. At the same time, it will prudently save our citizens’ tax dollars. Let’s move Kirtland forward.
Mayor, City of Kirtland
Communities with Consolidated Dispatch Service
In addition to all of Geauga County, with the exception of the City of Chardon, the following local communities are part of a consolidated dispatch service. Chardon serves as the back-up to GCSO, as Mentor is to Central.
Madison Fire District
North Perry Village
Perry Fire District
Waite Hill Village
Chagrin Falls Twp
Chagrin Falls Village
Highland Hills Village