Ogdensburg moving to new dispatch system, considers transfering service to county
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 9:27 am

BY JIMMY LAWTON
North Country This Week

OGDENSBURG -- Following a recommendation from the State Financial Review Board Ogdensburg is working with the county to potentially take over dispatcher services to the city, but any such change will take some time to accomplish.

Although nothing has been determined the council has been exploring a variety of measures to help reduce taxes, with recommendations from the FRB as a primary starting point.

The change could eliminate as many as four dispatcher positions at the city police department and St. Lawrence County Emergency Services would take over the dispatching.

Ogdensburg City Manager Sarah Purdy said it’s possible positions could be absorbed by the county, but the city would likely be offsetting any cost the service adds to the county budget.

Exact cost savings for the city are unknown, but because of a difference in systems used by the Ogdensburg City Police and St. Lawrence County Dispatch, its likely some costs would be incurred in for the transfer.

Another complication associated with the transfer is that Ogdensburg dispatchers also monitor on video people being held at the jail. She said the city would need to find a way to address this issue.

If the city moves forward with the dispatch transfer the FRB could grant the city up to $300,000 to implement the changeover.

Mayor Jeffrey Michael Skelly noted that the decision would not be an easy one. He pointed out that the job cuts would be taking the livelihood away from the city’s dispatchers.

Acting Fire Chief Don McCarthy said the dispatchers located in the Ogdensburg police station also provide services to his department.

Councilor Steve Fisher noted that the council should be working closely to address the recommendations made by the Financial Review Board, which helps municipalities facing financial struggles stabilize.

Purdy said any such change would take time and require and analysis of the city’s 911 data to determine what resources the county would need to absorb the workload. She said the city may reach out to the Development Authority of the North Country to help determine call frequency and peak times, which would help the county decide if it needed to add dispatchers or not.

Even if the county does not take over 911 services, the city is in the process of modernizing it’s dispatch system to match the county’s equipment and model. She said this was planned long before any discussion of transferring the dispatch service was mentioned. She noted that Massena police and Potsdam police were also undergoing the equipment change.