Commissioners hear union questions on dispatch changes

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — The Meigs County Commissioners heard from Meigs County Sheriff’s Office OPBA representative Rick Smith during their recent weekly meeting regarding questions about the upcoming switch to centralized dispatch services in the county.

Smith explained that the four full-time sheriff’s office dispatchers are part of the OPBA, with those positions a part of the current contract between the county and the OPBA which runs through March 2021.

Smith explained that the concern is over the wording of the positions being “abolished”, which cannot occur as the positions are part of the union contract and would therefore need to be negotiated out of the contact.

He also asked if the dispatchers, once moved to the centralized dispatch would be part of the OPBA, the EMS workers union or their own union.

The commissioners stated that is something to be worked out with the employees.

Questions were also asked about how the dispatchers would go from the sheriff’s office to the centralized dispatch agency and if the positions would have to be posted for applications and interviews or if those individuals would automatically fill the positions.

Commissioner Jimmy Will, who is part of the oversight board, invited Smith to take part in the meetings moving forward in order for everyone to be on the same page and work together.

The plan to move to centralized dispatch for Meigs County Emergency Services, including the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, was announced in September through a resolution approved by the Commissioners. The resolution also approved an oversight board to work toward the transition.

The resolution approved by the commissioners read in part, “The current Meigs County Commissioners see an opportunity to fulfill the completion of a true 911 Center that will handle the receiving and dispatching of all emergency communication between the public and public safety, included but not limited to fire service, emergency medical service, and law enforcement.”

Dispatch for the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office had been handled from the sheriff’s office until the beginning of COVID-19, when the dispatcher moved to the Robert E. Byer Emergency Operations Center, alongside, but not combined with fire and EMS dispatch.

The Meigs County 911 Dispatch Agency is able to be formed in part due to the 911 levy which was approved by Meigs County voters in November 2019.

The oversight board consists of the EMS Director, EMA Director, Meigs County Sheriff, one Meigs County Commissioner and the President of the Meigs County Firefighters Association.

In other business during Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners,

Approved payment of bills in the amount of $576,07693, with $25,885.50 from the County General Fund. Commissioner Randy Smith noted that there were no bills for the sheriff’s office again this week.

Approved a transfer of $25,000 into the dog kennel fund.

Approved an appropriation of $5,629.30 into the Bureau of Inspection line item for audit costs.

Approved an appropriation of $20,000 into the county court computer fund line item.

Approved appropriation adjustments for the dog shelter to move $826.08 from supplies to investigators and $6,000 from supplies to salaries.

Approved appropriation adjustments for Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District as follows: $1,000 from service fees to other expenses; $4,500 from workers comp to salaries; and $3,000 from contract services to salaries.

Approved an appropriation adjustment of $35,000 from the sheriff’s office salary line item to the housing line item.

Approved a quit claim deed regarding a piece of property near State Route 32 which was deeded from the state to the county several years ago. The property has now been deeded back to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Commissioners meet each week at 11 a.m. on Thursday in their office unless otherwise announced.

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By Sarah Hawley

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.

Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.