Debate on Butler County emergency dispatch fees continues today: What both sides are saying

The debate over the Butler County sheriff charging small jurisdictions with their own cop shops dispatch fees will continue Monday during a work session with the county commissioners. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
The debate over the Butler County sheriff charging small jurisdictions with their own cop shops dispatch fees will continue Monday during a work session with the county commissioners. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The debate over the Butler County Sheriff’s Office charging small jurisdictions fees for services through the emergency dispatch center will continue Monday during a work session with the county commissioners.

Several communities balked last year when they learned Sheriff Richard Jones intended to charge them for dispatching police calls, when some other communities get the service for free. Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer said preliminary estimates were: Fairfield ($219,638), Oxford ($34,651) and Ross ($75,780) townships, the villages of New Miami ($47,542) and Seven Mile ($5,764) and MetroParks ($6,999).

Ross Twp. Police Chief Burt Roberts told the Journal-News he has received bills for about $6,000 a month. The jurisdictions have not been expected to pay until the county can address issues.

“Just explain it to me where you come up with the dollar amount and why are you not charging everybody that uses the com center,” Roberts said. “Hopefully we’ll get some resolution with the commissioners that day, just some kind of explanation is all I’m looking for.”

The sheriff department’s annual budget for dispatch is about $4 million which is borne by the general fund. Commissioner Don Dixon said he understands why the sheriff wants to charge for his service.

“If you’re going to have a police department you’re going to have to have somebody dispatch for it, it’s all a matter of budgeting and what expectations you’ve got, somebody has to pay for that,” Dixon said. “That money doesn’t just magically appear.”

The sheriff police protection in all unincorporated areas that need his service. Dixon said the county can’t subsidize entities who choose to not use that service.

“If you need a car you go buy a good Chevrolet with a 20-year warranty and it gets the job done,” Dixon said. “If you want to ride around in a Lamborghini, which costs more money for everything, but that’s what you choose to do, then if you have the money to do it, have at it.”

Ross Twp. budgeted $1 million in revenues for this year to cover about $914,000 in expenses. Trustee Board President Tom Willsey said the township can’t afford the $75,780 bill.

“That’s a good chunk, it’s close to 10% and we run a budget and our people stay within that budget,” Willsey said. “Now you throw an extra 10% into any budget and it’s going to throw it all out of whack.”

Dwyer said the amounts are continuing to be reviewed even though bills have already been sent. The split between entities is based on call volume from 2019.

Seven Mile Mayor Vivian Gorsuch said that is a real problem because the village’s department has changed drastically. She doesn’t know the $5,764 charge was calculated, and it’s an amount the tiny village can’t afford.

“It makes no sense, I don’t know what their formula is,” Gorsuch said. “Whatever their formula was our department has changed and we don’t have that amount of calls anymore.”

Fairfield, Middletown, Monroe, Trenton and West Chester Twp. have their own dispatch centers. Liberty Twp. pays the sheriff’s office about $3 million a year to have their own dedicated sheriff’s outpost and dispatch services are included. Hanover Twp. Administrator Bruce Jones said they also has a contract with the sheriff for two dedicated deputies, they pay around $228,000 annually.

Hamilton and Oxford have their own police departments but began paying around $1.15 million and $366,319 respectively for the service several years ago.

The commissioners will listen to concerns after the regular board meeting on Monday.

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