Photo submitted Vernon city hall needs to be cautious when considering contracting out of fire dispatch.

Dispatch review needs public

Vernon city hall needs to consult with residents over contracting out fire dispatch

Nobody can fault the City of Vernon for looking at internal operations to see if there’s a better way of doing things. After all, the city depends on tax dollars and many residents continue to struggle financially.

So it makes sense to determine if contracting out fire hall dispatch services could reduce costs.

“It’s worth exploring. There aren’t too many stand-alone dispatch operations any more,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

“We can’t make a decision until we have all of the information.”

Currently, the stand-alone dispatch service in Vernon costs $549,355 per year and anticipated savings through contracting out are about $250,000 per year.

However, not everything is about saving money.

The four dispatchers currently employed make decent salaries and that money goes right back into the local economy through taxes, home purchases and shopping etc. If all well-paying jobs disappear, the community suffers.

There is also the issue of control and will the city have any say over standards if the service is contracted out? If a resident has a complaint over dispatching, such as a fire truck being sent to the wrong address, who do they approach?

Like anything, there are pros and cons to contracting out.

That’s why council needs to take a very cautious approach and it may be necessary to actually consult with those directly impacted by any changes — the public. Going to residents and getting their thoughts before a decision is made wouldn’t hurt.