By LYDIA BAULER
FOR THE COURIER
FOSTORIA — Fostoria dispatcher jobs were spared when updates to the city’s five-year recovery plan were approved after a contract renegotiation with the dispatchers’ union.
The city’s Financial Planning and Supervision Commission unanimously voted to adopt an updated recovery plan on March 7 that will keep the dispatchers “in-house,” Mayor Eric Keckler said.
Fostoria was placed in fiscal emergency by the state auditor’s office in May 2016, forcing the administration to craft a recovery plan aimed at balancing the budget by 2021.
One part of the plan called for eliminating local dispatch operations by July 1, 2017, and contracting with either Seneca, Hancock or Wood County. The move would have eliminated the remaining dispatcher positions.
The summer deadline passed without the expected layoffs due to logistical issues, Keckler has said.
Ultimately, logistical issues and the cost of updating technology and software to be compatible with the county agencies made keeping local dispatchers — with concessions — the more cost-effective option, according to the mayor.
The move to keep local dispatchers rather than outsourcing to a sheriff’s office dispatch center is expected to save the city a projected $110,000 over the five-year recovery period, according to chief project manager Belinda Miller from State Auditor Dave Yost’s office.
The renegotiated contract with the dispatcher’s union additionally cuts costs by reducing the number of full-time dispatchers from four to three with some part-time positions, according to Miller.
Also, the dispatchers made concessions, such as picking up a greater portion of health insurance costs, which is expected to lower the city’s spending on salary and benefits, Miller said.
“We also looked at some of the intangibles,” she said. “There’d be someone there 24/7 in the department so there would be actually someone there to assist people who come into the station.”