To save money, Richfield is closing dispatch center

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 24, 2013 - 8:36 PM

Like many others in the metro area, the city has decided to outsource its 911 services. It is considering three proposals.

Richfield is joining more metro cities in closing dispatch centers, opting to outsource the services as soon as later this year.

In a 4-1 vote, the City Council on Tuesday nixed buying a $382,000 software update for dispatch services, which cost about $680,000 each year.

“We really have almost no choice; all of us would rather have the 911 dispatch here,” Council Member Edwina Garcia said at the meeting. “But … the ugly truth is facing us. We have a fiduciary responsibility that the city runs as well as it can.”

Now, the City Council faces a “very big” decision Aug. 13 to decide whom to contract with — a five-year agreement with Bloomington costing $450,000 a year, with $50,000 in transition costs; a two-year agreement with Edina costing about $148,000 a year, with $48,600 in transition costs, or with Hennepin County for a one-time cost of up to $80,000.

Deciding the fate of the city’s dispatch center is “probably the hardest thing I’ve worked on in my term,” City Manager Steve Devich told the council.

The city received “tons” of e-mails and the council weighed options the past two months. Senior citizens were vocal, worried that dumping the dispatch service will slow response times.

But council members said the tough decision came down to saving money; outside providers have reassured them the quality of service won’t be affected.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141

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