BC admin committee nixes joint dispatch
by Carl Heidel
Leader staff writer
SIREN--In a move that runs counter to a resolution from Burnett County's Public Safety Committee, the Administration Committee of the county's board of supervisors voted five to one to keep Burnett's emergency dispatch services in Burnett County. The action came in the committee's regular meeting Monday, Feb. 18.
Supervisors Donald Taylor, Edgar Peterson, Richard Anderson, Gary Lundberg and Maury Miller supported the Lundberg-Miller motion to keep the services local. The lone vote against came from the public safety chair, Supervisor Donald Chell. Supervisor Gerald Pardun, also a committee member, was absent.
The Public Safety Committee in its Feb. 7 meeting had approved a resolution to move the dispatch services out of Burnett and into Polk County. Chell indicated at the time that the resolution was an attempt to move the matter toward a final decision.
The intent of the resolution was to present a definite proposal to the full board of supervisors. It was hoped that such an action would bring an end to the ongoing debate by forcing the supervisors take a definite action.
Unless the full board of supervisors meeting Thursday, Feb. 21 reverses the admin committee's action, this will end the most recent effort to find a solution to Burnett's dispatch problems. The county is faced with the need to upgrade its dispatch communication equipment, and the need to separate its dispatch and jail supervision activities.
Before the vote, Taylor briefly traced the history of the dispatch services question. An earlier
consideration of the possibility of Burnett and Washburn counties operating a joint emergency dispatch program failed to receive acceptance, and then Burnett explored the feasibility of a joint operation with Polk County.
A feasibility study said that such an operation would be workable, and would save Burnett money in the long run. But that plan ran into opposition from emergency service providers and others in Burnett when Polk turned down the proposal for a joint operation, and Burnett faced the prospect of having to contract with Polk for dispatch services.
In addition to the support for the proposed shared dispatch operation given by the Public Service Committee, support also came from people directly involved in dispatch services. Burnett Sheriff Dean Roland and members of his staff, Burnett Emergency Services Director Rhonda Reynolds and County Administrator Candace Fitzgerald all argued the benefits of a shared operation.
Just before the vote, Reynolds asked to share information from her own research into the matter. At first the committee members were reluctant to let her speak, but finally gave permission.