Faced with a hefty increase for providing 911 dispatch services to the county by continuing to partner with Weber County, Morgan County officials are dedicated to shopping other options, specifically in Davis County.
At the Sept. 6 meeting, Councilman Ned Mecham said he had approached the Davis County sheriff and dispatch center director about the possibility of Davis providing 911 dispatch services to Morgan. He was pleasantly surprised with the low numbers Davis County presented to him.
Mecham said Davis County charges every city it provides dispatch for a flat fee of $28 per emergency fire call as well as $2,154.29 for every deputy employed with the entity. In Morgan’s case, its 665 average annual fire calls would cost $18,620 and its 12 uniformed officers would cost $25,851.48 in annual dispatch fees.
The total for dispatch services with Davis would come to $44,471.48, Mecham said. Morgan County would also forward some $88,000 in annual dispatch fees charged to Morgan cell phone owners to Davis, if it were the new dispatch provide. So, for $132,471.48, Morgan could get dispatch services with Davis.
Compare that to Weber County asking Morgan to pay an additional $285,586.87 to continue dispatch services with them, and Mecham said the savings are undeniable.
“It would save the taxpayers money,” he said.
“The price looks good,” Councilman Logan Wilde said.
But Morgan Sheriff Blaine Breshears is not so sure. He wonders if Morgan would be required to purchase a Spillman license and other equipment needed to be compatible with Davis’s system. Since Morgan’s Utah Highway Patrol area includes Weber County but not Davis County, Breshears also wonders if dispatch would not be seamless as it is now when Morgan officers request the help of Weber County, state park and recreation, DNR and Utah Highway Patrol deputies.
“I have no problem with looking, because I am not happy with what Weber has done. But I have some concerns we will become an island,” Breshears said. “Right now if we have an emergency, as soon as (Morgan deputies) call, (Weber deputies) hear it immediately. With Davis, when (Morgan deputies) pick up the radio and scream for help, (Davis) would have to dispatch to Weber to send help.”
Council Chairman Austin Turner, who is a former law enforcement officer, said dispatch between Summit County and UHP troopers in Wasatch County, which has its own dispatch, is not seamless.
Councilman Robert Kilmer asked Mecham to find out if Davis would provide the exact same service that Weber is currently providing. The county council as a whole advised Mecham to get solid numbers in writing after checking with other Davis County officials.
Mecham likes that Davis County charges each entity it dispatches for a flat per-call or per-officer fee, rather than Weber County charging Morgan a property tax percentage based on property values in the county, which are expected to increase each year.
The council agreed that it would be worth shopping around for dispatch services, noting that their shopping might pressure Weber officials to reconsider its demands. Breshears noted that Weber isn’t making the same property tax percentage demands to the UHP or the state’s parks, forest service and wildlife agencies for providing their dispatch services.
“It would be wrong to not take a look at” Davis’s numbers, Councilwoman Tina Cannon said.
“We owe it to the citizens to at least shop,” Kilmer said. “We would rather not change (away from Weber), but we can’t be treated like that.”
During their Sept. 6 meeting, the Morgan County Council unanimously voted to postpone signing Weber’s dispatch services fee contract, opting for more time to shop around.