CROSBY -- The task force formed to investigate the pros and cons of the Crosby Police Department dispatch center will be looking at funding sources as well.
About 10 people attended the task force meeting at Crosby City Hall Wednesday, and the majority of the discussion focused on possible funding and revenue sources for the dispatch center. In a noted change, Wednesday's meeting didn't feature the acrimony of previous task force and council meetings in which the dispatch center was discussed.
The dispatch was proposed for possible elimination by Crosby Mayor Steve Goshey to help the city revive its finances. There are four full-time and four part-time employees of the Crosby police dispatch center. Emergency 911 calls for the city are received by the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department and forwarded to the city.
While possible reductions in state-granted local government aid of $131,000 this year and $240,000 in 2004 have been a focal point, Goshey has said the elimination of the dispatch center would be part of a larger effort to improve the city's financial picture.
"Yes, I'm of the opinion that the city could get along without dispatching," said Goshey Wednesday. "But if we could find a fair way to fund it, I'd be for it."
The task force scheduled a meeting for Tuesday. Task force chairman Lenny Mancini said he also would address the Crosby City Council at its April 14 meeting.
Mancini reiterated his desire to work with the city council, which has the final say on the dispatch center's future, to find ways to generate funds. There also was discussion about the possibility of holding a referendum to let Crosby residents decide.
There are three main users of the police dispatch center -- the city police department and fire department and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center ambulance service, though the fire department and the ambulance service cover a larger area than just Crosby-Ironton.
"There's a lot of people benefiting from it, but the only ones paying for it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are the residents of Crosby," said Goshey.
Some townships pay a fee for actual usage of the dispatch service.
Goshey suggested sending a letter out to townships that contract with the city for dispatch services, to see if they'd be willing to pay a larger share of the cost. He also said he would contact the ambulance service about increased fees for dispatching.
Mancini suggested contacting banks about paying more for alarm services through the police department. Also discussed as possible funding sources were state and federal grants and charitable gambling.
"If we're going to keep them, we're going to have to spread the cost over the entities that receive benefits," said Goshey.
Crosby police officer and task force member John Reed said if funding for the dispatch center could be found for this year, then the task force could focus on long-term financing for the dispatch center.
"We need to start doing the work for next year now," said Reed.
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