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County helps pay New Haven 911 bill

Council to shoulder $75,874 for upgrades

– Allen County Council members agreed Thursday to help pay for upgrades to New Haven’s 911 center after New Haven shaved close to $30,000 off its original request.

New Haven Police Chief Steve Poiry and Mayor Terry McDonald attended last month’s council meeting and requested $105,623 after being hit with unexpected licensing and network fees.

They have since scaled back the number of dispatching consoles from three to two, reducing the request to $75,874, Poiry said.

“We have two consoles, which we use the majority of the time, and would use the third one in the event of a disaster,” Poiry said. “Obviously, we would like to have three, but we can get by with two.”

The money, which comes from the county’s 911 fund that consists of 911 user fees, will be used to reimburse New Haven for already-completed equipment upgrades.

Councilman Larry Brown, R-4th, suggested New Haven consider cross-training with the Allen County-Fort Wayne 911 call center to become familiar with the city-county’s new center and dispatching equipment.

“If anything happened, it would then be a smoother transition,” to set up emergency dispatching in the new center, Brown said.

The new city-county 911 center will open Feb. 4 on the sixth floor of the Rousseau Centre in downtown Fort Wayne. Poiry said New Haven’s system will go live at the same time.

If New Haven’s system stalled or shut down, its dispatchers could work from the city-county location with little cross-training because they have the same systems, Poiry said.

“I can’t imagine there would be any major hurdles,” he said.

New Haven is not opposed to looking into working with the new director of the city-county 911 center after that person is hired, Poiry said. Executive Director Tim Lee resigned last week to accept a similar job in Florida.

What would make more sense, Poiry said, would be for New Haven’s staff to familiarize themselves with the Public Safety Academy.

The academy on Fort Wayne’s south side is an emergency backup location for the city-county 911 center.

New Haven has never participated in the city-county’s shutdown drills – conducted every six months – at the Public Safety Academy because it has never been invited, Poiry said. Brown said New Haven has been a working partner and did its part to reduce the funding request.

“It’s not a case of ‘we’ and ‘they,’ ” he said. “New Haven is part of Allen County.”

In other business:

•The council set the annual salaries of certain chief deputies to 75 percent of the salary of the department’s chief elected official. The ordinance will be reviewed annually, and elected officials can come to the council to request higher salaries for their chief deputies, if warranted.

The change would prevent a new chief deputy from being paid at the same level as a departing chief deputy who might have had more tenure and experience, County Auditor Tera Klutz said.

The policy excludes departments – such as the sheriff’s – where salaries are set by the state. Other such departments include the clerk, auditor, treasurer, county assessor, Wayne Township assessor and voter registration.

•Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries’ department will get 11 new squad cars and six SUVs after council members agreed to chip in $200,000 toward the $430,268 cost. The remaining balance will be paid with jail commissary funds.

The new vehicles are expected to be delivered by the end of January, Fries said.