June 22, 2012 | Back to: News

Truckee, Nevada City police departments look to trim dispatch costs

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Truckee and Nevada City police departments are looking to lower costs of providing around-the-clock emergency dispatch services currently offered through a contract with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.The sheriff’s dispatch center in Nevada City has handled calls for the Nevada City Police Department under a contract poised to cost more than $133,000 for the coming year.The town of Truckee pays the county sheriff’s office more than a half-million dollars annually to handle its dispatch duties at the sheriff’s substation on Donner Pass Road.Both departments have approached the Grass Valley Police Department about providing the dispatch service at a lower cost, potentially taking a collective $683,000 away from the sheriff’s office.“We’re looking at all of our options right now,” said NCPD Chief Jim Wickham, whose department doled out $128,544 to the sheriff’s office in 2011 to handle NCPD’s 5,500 dispatch calls, which composed more than 12 percent of the 68,000 calls in western county.With Nevada City’s police department’s $1.4 million budget representing more than 43 percent of the city’s $3.2 million in expenses, Wickham said he has no choice but to look for savings.Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill agrees.“The sheriff may be the best game in town, but we owe it to the taxpayers to weigh every option,” said McGill, whose department paid $564,157 of its nearly $4 million police budget in 2011 to the sheriff’s office to field approximately 13,500 calls, representing 39.2 percent of eastern county dispatch calls made.“It hurts to write that check every year,” McGill said.Should the sheriff’s office lose the dispatch contracts for the Nevada City and Truckee police departments, presenting nearly 4.6 percent of the sheriff’s overall $31.1 million budget, staff would have to be cut, said Sheriff Keith Royal.“If they can come to some kind of agreement where they can maintain the level of service and save money, we would be supportive of that,” Royal said.Nevada City’s dispatch cost is set to increase by more than $5,000 as negotiations for next year’s preliminary $133,800 dispatch contract continue, according to Nevada City records.“My only option is to speak with Grass Valley and see what they are anticipating,” Wickham said.However, Royal said the proposed increase doesn’t even cover the $160,000 cost to his department to provide the dispatch service.“We’re subsidizing them,” Royal said.With headquarters less than a mile from downtown Nevada City, at 950 Maidu Ave., the sheriff’s office often assists NCPD in police services. If the Nevada City went elsewhere for dispatch services, Royal said it would impact his department’s assistance response time in Nevada City.“The county has provided us with excellent service, but we’re all victims of the economy,” Wickham said.If Truckee Police transferred dispatch services, Royal said the impact would be more pronounced.The sheriff’s Truckee substation not only handles dispatch for eastern Nevada County, it also has a 12-inmate holding facility. Without the proposed $550,000 for Truckee dispatch contract for fiscal year 2012-13, Royal said he would have to close the facility, leaving eastern county without a jail and potentially causing an issue for transporting inmates, especially during severe winter weather.But Truckee won’t be abandoning the sheriff’s office for dispatch anytime soon, McGill said, because any transition would take at least a year.“We’ll be with the sheriff for the foreseeable future,” McGill said. “There would have to be a lot of preparation and infrastructure. You can’t just flip a switch.”

Christopher Rosackercrosacker@theunion.com

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jun 22, 2012 01:03PM Published Jun 22, 2012 01:02PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.