The Unraveling of Regional Cooperation
March 4, 2010 11:16 AM
Twenty-two years ago, Madison donated its dispatch equipment and space in the City -County Building to Dane County to begin the new centralized dispatch center. It's important to remember that we transferred all dispatch services - both emergency and nonemergency - to the new centralized dispatch center.
From its inception, it has been and continues to be the center's mission and responsibility to dispatch both emergency calls and non-emergency calls like parking, noise complaints, etc. As part of the agreement, and to protect the Madison taxpayer investment in that system, the county agreed never to diminish the service that Madison received. The County Executive's proposal to now charge for certain dispatch services and force us to recreate our own dispatch function would now do exactly that.
It just makes sense to have one centralized, efficient dispatch service for the entire county because it avoids duplication and fairly spreads the costs of services. Do we really want to go back to the days when every one of the dozens of communities in the county had its own dispatch function? Imagine the waste in duplication and overhead costs. But that is exactly the road we would chose if we start picking off one service after another, forcing communities to either accept a county bill for the service or reinstitute their own dispatch centers.
Over the years we've made significant progress on regional approaches to delivering services. The airport, zoo and welfare services have all been transferred to the county in the last few decades. More recently the County Executive and I were able to create a joint health department after years of false starts. And the new Regional Transit Authority is a huge step in the right direction for creating a countywide coordinated approach to workforce transportation.
With all that progress to date, the answer isn't to turn back the clock now when it comes to dispatch services. The answer is to move ahead with an even better regional idea. I'll write about that tomorrow.