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Sheriff requests $280K for dispatch center upgrades

Dec 27, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The funds would cover a recording system for emergency calls, new furniture, and software updates.

The Fremont County Commission has asked for clarification on $280,000 in dispatch center equipment upgrades and replacements that Sheriff Skip Hornecker requested at a county board meeting Nov. 12.

At a Dec. 10 meeting, the sheriff said he was working with the Fremont County Clerk's and Treasurer's offices to develop a five-year plan for such expenditures.

The largest item in the Nov. 12 request was $105,000 for a system to record emergency radio frequencies and 911 calls and text messages. The next biggest were $80,000 to replace office furniture in the dispatch center and $50,000 to upgrade software in the 911 telephone system.

Other items were $20,000 to upgrade computer work stations, $11,000 to recall recorded voice communications instantly, $12,000 for a paging device and $3,000 for a test message paging system.

"We're trying to stay ahead of the technology," Hornecker said.

New furniture is needed because the original desks and chairs are worn out after 13 years of round-the-clock use, the sheriff said.

He proposed using the dispatch center and E911 budgets to purchase all of the new equipment.

Commissioners wanted more clarification.

"Which of these items are going to E911 budget, and which are going to the dispatch budget?" commissioner Travis Becker asked.

Becker said knowing exactly how much it is spending on communications equipment would help the county when it asks other entities using the dispatch center -- such as the City of Lander -- for funds.

Communications center director Carl Freeman said the dispatch and E911 budgets would share the cost of each item.

Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger suggested the sheriff's office budgets would do better to project the department's revenues and expenditures farther into the future.

"This is just piecemeal, this is just one piece of the puzzle," Harnsberger said. "I think if you just saw one picture, that would help."

The treasurer said the Emergency Medical Services Department took on the forward-looking approach and was able to build three new ambulance barns in 10 years.

Commissioners asked Hornecker to return with a breakdown of how much each item on each of his budgets would cost.