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George West accepts paying more to add dispatchers
by Tim Delaney
Sep 16, 2012 | 1642 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GEORGE WEST ­— With an increase in calls to Live Oak County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, the George West City Council reciprocated to a request for additional funds to hire more personnel during a special meeting Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Currently, the city of George West contributes $6,000 a year for the dispatch services.

City manager Sandra Martinez said the initial request, a letter dated Aug. 28 from Live Oak County Judge Jim Huff, included shares of $34,160 each from George West and Three Rivers, while McMullen County’s share would be $68,920.

But Live Oak County was not in the mix in that original request. So adjustments were made.

The new breakdown of sharing cost of dispatching services was $22,973 for the city of George West, the city of Three Rivers and Live Oak County, while McMullen County would contribute the initial amount requested.

The additional funds will pay for three full-time dispatchers, a cost of $137,840 a year.

Sheriff Larry Busby said traffic stops have increased by 90 percent over the last year in Three Rivers and George West. He said Live Oak County has had a substantial increase, as well.

He added that McMullen County has had a “big jump.”

“Add this up with multiple officers (responding),” he said.

Busby said during the first six months of 2012, there’s been 7,340 calls, while for the entire years in 2011 there were 10,170 calls, and in 2010, there were 9,330 calls.

A projected total for 2012 amounts to about 12,583.

In 2010, there were 9,330 911 calls. In 2011, there were 14,291 911 calls. Data for 2012 isn’t available yet.

Busby also stated in a letter that the reasons for the increases included non-sufficient telecommunications for response to emergencies. He also said the pay scale to hire telecommunications personnel is so low, his department cannot compete.

“Obviously, the major reason for the significant increase in communication demands is due to the increased oil exploration activity and the increase in emergency services needed to serve this increased activity,” he wrote.

Busby said he has three bases in the new sheriff’s office building, so there is room for more dispatchers.

“Dispatchers have a stressful job. It’s constant in there. They need relief,” he said.

Busby said he has four part-time dispatchers and positions for six full-time dispatchers. Currently, five of those positions are taken.

He intends to keep the part-time staff.

He noted scheduling becomes tough when dispatchers take vacation or sick leave. The dispatching service is supposed to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pertaining to the additional funds, Busby said, “It’s probably something we should have been doing all along in increments. Hopefully, this’ll take care of it for a good while.”

Mayor Sylvia Steele suggested maybe creating a permitting process for wrecker services to help pay for the additional costs.

Councilman David Cantu commented on the timing of the request, coming after a budget has been prepared for approval on Sept. 17.

“Give us a little more heads up if possible,” Cantu said.

“None of us saw this coming,” Busby said, but he agreed to more advance notice on funding requests.

The council voted to approve the request.

The council also approved the recommended low bid for a wastewater project on Robert Lloyd Drive.

Eric Villarreal, of LNV engineering consulting, said three bids were opened Aug. 23, and the low bid of $58,170 was chosen from Harborth Construction.

The line is in the city limits in an area previously annexed.

Villarreal estimated the project could get under way after a pre-construction meeting, about 20 to 24 days away.

The council also discussed a new development project that would add 40 to 72 units of permanent housing on about 10 acres already in the city limits off Milam Street.

The council will meet with the developer, Brannon Brooks, about the housing project at a future council meeting. The city will consider waiving permitting fees, helping with streets and infrastructure to aid in getting the development.

“The difference is that this is in the city limits,” Martinez said.

The council also approved the first reading of the tax rate ordinance setting the new tax rate.

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