River Hills joins Bayside dispatch agreement at higher cost
Trustees question, but ultimately approve, arrangement
River Hills — Despite some reluctance over increased costs, the River Hills Village Board on Wendesday unanimously approved an agreement with neighboring Bayside for dispatching and shared municipal court services.
The approved agreement, effective Jan. 1, 2014, will take the place of a 10-year agreement through which River Hills has shared dispatching services with Bayside and Fox Point, and court services with Bayside. Bayside Village Manager Andy Pederson and River Hills Village Manager Chris Lear both acknowledged the previous agreement has been "very advantageous" to River Hills.
"We have always known the expiring contract was favorable for us," Lear wrote to trustees and village staff Sept. 19, "and that couldn't go on forever because our fellow North Shore communities were really subsidizing us during that period. Bayside especially."
Trustees took issue with the approximately $40,000 annual cost increase for dispatching and court services which accompanies the new agreement and joins River Hills to all North Shore communities serviced by the Bayside dispatch center.
"When you get scale, more people getting a piece of equipment (for example), then the cost doesn't decline on a per capita basis, it shoots a hole in this whole theory that regional government make sense," Trustee Stephen Anderson said, referring to one of the main selling points of the North Shore-wide dispatch consolidation: cost savings.
While the new agreement does have River Hills paying more, Pederson said the combined Bayside dispatch center provides significantly better service than the old River Hills/Bayside/Fox Point agreement, oftentimes lowering response times on police and fire calls.
Under the new agreement, Pederson said, each participating community will pay fixed amounts to Bayside for dispatch center capital upkeep and purchases. If those costs come in under budget, Bayside keeps the difference as a capital fund balance, Pederson said, and if costs come in over budget, Bayside makes up the difference out of its own budget.
"The risk is placed on Bayside," Pederson said. "We're also creating a fund balance. Right now we're starting with a fund balance of zero."
When asked what options River Hills has, should the contract be refused, Pederson said the village could purchase dispatching services from Mequon or Milwaukee, prompting the vote on and approval of the Bayside contract.
"I know that this is a human comment that has nothing to do with dog-eat-dog negotiations, but our brothers in the North Shore do seem genuinely concerned for our welfare," commented Lear. "They're not out to get River Hills."
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