NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. — Three of Nevada County’s local law enforcement agencies have given a green light to a consolidated police dispatch service provided by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office — a merger touted as a money saver for each agency.
With the Nevada City Council’s unanimous vote at Wednesday night’s meeting to join Grass Valley and Truckee police departments in the consolidation, only the Nevada County Board of Supervisors is left to approve the matter for the sheriff’s office.
The supervisors are expected to tackle the issue at their Oct. 9 meeting, said Nevada City Police Chief Jim Wickham.
The Grass Valley city council and Truckee’s town council approved the matter at their respective meetings Tuesday night.
“I think this is the best thing for Nevada City and the best thing for the whole county,” Wickham said. “It’s about time the four agencies worked together to have a regional dispatch.”
The sheriff’s office and its nine-person dispatch center already provide Nevada City’s police communication and also maintains a substation on Donner Pass Road in eastern Nevada County, which traditionally has had about six employees providing dispatch for the Truckee Police Department, according to Sheriff Keith Royal.
Nevada City just approved a $133,000 contract to continue that service, which is projected to increase $30,000 next year, and Truckee doles out more than a half-million dollars annually to the sheriff’s office. Grass Valley’s dispatch center costs about $553,000 annually to operate and staff.
If all four law enforcement agencies reach agreement, Grass Valley would save $163,000 annually; Truckee close to $200,000; and Nevada City would save about $30,000, on top of avoiding another $30,000 increase next year.
Royal predicted that each agency would see further savings in subsequent years, citing conservative estimates for this year’s implementation of the consolidated model.
Consolidation would mean the shuttering of the Truckee dispatch facility, as well as Grass Valley’s own dispatch center, which would lose its four full-time dispatchers and two part-timers.
“It makes sense financially, but because it involves people and my employees, it is tough,” said Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster at Tuesday’s Grass Valley City Council meeting.
Grass Valley voted 4-1 to approve the matter Tuesday, with Councilwoman Yolanda Cookson “respectfully” dissenting against the majority, citing the comforts of having a more local dispatch service familiar with Grass Valley’s streets and issues.
“We’ve been dealing with Nevada City and Truckee as customers for a number of years, and I truly believe that working with Grass Valley, it is going to work,” Royal said at Tuesday’s Grass Valley City Council meeting.
As part of their decisions Tuesday, Grass Valley Council members also approved how the savings would be allocated.
GVPD stands to see the addition of three positions, including a clerk to continue to staff the department’s public office during regular business hours, a sergeant position and a vacant officer position, Foster said
Nevada City Police’s savings would go toward offsetting its deficit that started the year at $50,000.
Eliminating the Truckee dispatch center would allow Royal to staff efficiently the substations’s jail, which acts as a temporary holding facility until inmates are transported to Nevada City.
“Our goal is to provide the highest level of service for all agencies,” Royal said Tuesday. “There are some benefits to be had by all.”