Funny how things can happen quickly when City Council is motivated.
From Mercury News/Neil Gonzales, 7/13/11. "South San Francisco is poised to take over 911 emergency calls for Pacifica, which needs to outsource the service because of its budget problems. The change would result in annual savings for Pacifica but could reduce interactions between police and residents, a Pacifica official said. A South San Francisco official, however, said the switch will not hurt emergency response times in Pacifica. The South San Francisco City Council is scheduled to consider approving the agreement at a meeting Wednesday. The pact would run over three fiscal years through 2013-14, with South San Francisco being compensated about $612,000 annually, according to a staff report.The partnership should benefit both cities, South San Francisco Vice Mayor Richard Garbarino said. "I don't think they can carry a full dispatch center," Garbarino said of Pacifica. "They are strained economically. We all are." For South San Francisco, he said, "It gives us extra people. It gives us more capacity." South San Francisco police would hire four additional people for its dispatch center to address the increased workload of covering Pacifica, according to the staff report. Besides its own city, the department already dispatches for Colma, mostly during late-night and early-morning hours. The dispatching transition from Pacifica to South San Francisco is expected to start in early August and last six months because of training for both existing and new employees related to the change and other needs, the report says.
According to Pacifica police Capt. Dave Bertini, outsourcing dispatch would save his city about $280,000 a year. That is part of a plan to slash $700,000 from the Pacifica police budget, he said. Last month, the Pacifica council approved an overall city budget that lopped off $1.5 million and laid off an equivalent of nearly 20 full-time employees -- including five dispatchers and their supervisor. Those dispatch workers have been invited to apply for employment with South San Francisco, Bertini said, "but there's no guarantee they will get a job there." Although giving up its dispatch service would yield savings for Pacifica at a time of budget constraints, Bertini said the switch could also bring some difficulties, especially in the beginning.
Pacifica's police station would not be open 24 hours a day anymore, because no dispatcher would be there, he said. Residents needing to take care of a police matter would have to go to the station during regular business hours. South San Francisco dispatchers "don't have an intimate knowledge" of Pacifica's geography and would need to become familiar with it, Bertini added. South San Francisco would also see an increase in the number of emergency calls by covering another city, he said. "It may get busy." But South San Francisco police Chief Michael Massoni said he doesn't foresee any serious obstacles. While it's good for dispatchers to become familiar with a city, Massoni said, the computer system would show which officer is the closest to send to an emergency in Pacifica. The increased call volume also would not be an issue because of the planned hiring of the additional dispatchers, he said. "The cities won't see a decline in service," Massoni said. "They'll see it improve."employees related to the change and other needs, the report says.
Because of the poor economy, cities are continually exploring ways to team up and share the delivery of services. To that end, South San Francisco Mayor Kevin Mullin sees the agreement with Pacifica as "the first step in a larger conversation" about providing dispatch services throughout northern San Mateo County. Mullin hopes South San Francisco "can maybe work with a few other cities in the North County (to) consolidate that operation," he said."
Posted by Kathy Meeh