By Erin Achenbach
Crestwood will continue with Central County Emergency 911 for emergency dispatch services after considering contracting with Kirkwood for dispatching.
The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously at its July 23 meeting to continue with its current dispatchers.
The city’s contract states that Central County Emergency 911 will provide emergency dispatch services for Crestwood from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2024. The contract will automatically renew beginning Jan. 1, 2025, on an annual basis Jan. 2 of each following year, unless written notice is given by either party to not renew or terminate the contract.
The cost to contract with Central County is based on Crestwood’s total assessed valuation, including any land where Crestwood provides fire and ambulance services. In 2020 and 2021, the city will pay 35 cents per $100 of total assessed valuation; in 2022, the city will pay 36 cents; in 2023, 37 cents; and in 2024, 37.5 cents.
The total amount paid comes out to roughly $86,496 a year for now.
City Administrator Kris Simpson said that the cost was lower than what city staff was originally anticipating, but the lower cost is due in part to the portion of Crestwood that receives fire and emergency services from the Affton Fire Protection District, which means that land will not be factored into Crestwood’s assessed value for the purposes of the contract.
Payments will be made in two installments: half is due March 1 and the remaining half is due July 1 for each year Central County provides dispatch services to the city.
Crestwood has had a contract with Central County since 2013. The contract was set to expire at the end of 2018, but since neither Central County nor Crestwood gave the required six-month notice that either wished to terminate the previous contract, the contract was automatically renewed for one more year through the end of 2019, without a fee increase.
Before eventually recommending the city continue status-quo dispatching services for the next few years, city staff and the city Fire Board looked into other options to compare costs. One option considered was Kirkwood Fire Dispatch, which also provides 911 services for Des Peres.
“My visit to Central Dispatch was a real eye-opener,” said Fire Board member Bill Frien before the board unanimously recommended Central Dispatch April 22. Frien, along with other members of the Fire Board and aldermen, visited both Central Dispatch and Kirkwood Fire Dispatch. “I was amazed at the technology… They have three operators answering the phones, they have two dispatchers listening to that operator take that information, and they are dispatching the closest units to whatever it is. They are 24/7, 365…they have about 85 percent of St. Louis County under contract,” or 33 departments.
Frien added that Central County’s dispatchers are trained for six months before starting the job, in addition to monthly meetings and training, while Kirkwood has only one dispatcher taking calls.
“If a second call comes in, it’s gonna wait,” said Frien.
The Fire Board unanimously voted to recommend to aldermen that the city continue service with Central County Dispatch.
Ward 2 Alderman Justin Charboneau also visited both facilities.
“I would say Central County has a little bit of an edge just because of the familiarity, our familiarity with them and their technology,” said Charboneau. “I think the technology was probably the biggest sticking point for me.”
After discussion May 28, aldermen voted to draft a contract with Central County. The ordinance was approved July 23.