Saturday, May 29, 2010
This time around it is over the terms and conditions in a letter sent to Mayor Nancolas on January 4, 2010 regarding County costs for combined city/county 911 dispatch operations. Sheriff Smith appears to be going for the brass ring on this as well by billing Caldwell property taxpayers $518,633.19 for dispatch services. Commissioners and the Sheriff finally gave up on trying to get a response from the Mayor. Mayor Nancolas was sent a formal letter dated January 4th, 2010 regarding County 911 dispatch costs and a proposal to share the $1.5MM costs of the dispatch center. (public records indicate Canyon County will receive on the order of $1.3MM for phone surcharges under e-911 collections this fiscal year)
Here's the deal gleaned from public records:
Back in 2001 the City and County formally agreed to combine 911 dispatch services to the benefit of all city and county residents and taxpayers. When Caldwell built the new police station, the county would get all the e-911 surcharges from Caldwell you see on phone/telecom bills you get each month. The city would not build a new dispatch center and save money on the construction and costs of a new 911 dispatch center.
In the original agreement page 5, item #3, "If COUNTY seeks contributions from the users of CCSO's dispatch services, CITY shall negotiate with the COUNTY, in good faith, an amendment to this Agreement for contributions by the CITY to the COUNTY for the operation of CCSO"S dispatch services center."
A meeting was held with Mayor Nancolas, the CCBOC, and a cast of other 911 players on February 8th,2010. Commissioner Ferdinand said Mayor Nancolas was given a letter dated January 4th, 2010 regarding budget issues where the county hasn't been charging for dispatch services.
"Mayor Nancolas said the only time he heard anything about the budget issues was after receiving the letter. He also said he wished the board had not sent the letter. Commissioner Rule said he called Mayor Nancolas a couple of times over the last two weeks and didn't receive a call back. Mayor Nancolas said he never received the messages."
(The response from Mayor Nancolas is a pretty much stock answer when he is confronted with facts. He can plead ignorance of the topic and download this communication failure onto "the best staff Caldwell has ever had." If he, in fact, did not receive word of Commissioner Rule's repeated efforts to contact him, then he should consider replacing his secretarial staff for incompetence.)
Councilman and former Caldwell Chief of Police, Bob Sobba was at the February meeting. Mr. Sobba reminded everyone it was the county's choice in 2001 not to receive fees for personnel costs. A 20 year upgrade project on 911 communications equipment is now completed due to the agreement to combine 911 services. Now the county wants to change terms of the deal per item #3 in the origianl agreement signed by all the parties to the resolution.
We are in an economy leaving all taxing entities scrambling to collect all the cash they can from every source possible. Dispatch personnel costs to the county are $1,524,047.00 for fiscal 2009. Sheriff Smith and Commishes now want to download 33.3% of dispatch personnel costs onto the city of Caldwell over a three year period, despite getting all the e-911 cash from Caldwell.
Caldwell's decision in 2001 to not build a dispatch center was a good faith and very wise decision made by Chief Sobba and Sheriff Nourse. We don't know how much e-911 cash Caldwell generates for the County but with the upgraded dispatch center in place we don't think Caldwell should be on the hook for a full third of the operational costs. The cash generated by e-911 charges given to the county should be a consideration. Sheriff Smith is reported to not share this view of the e-911 revenues received from Caldwell.
This could deteriorate to Caldwell making a break from the county and starting its own dispatch center again or combining with Nampa or Caldwell and the County coming to a reasonable agreement. In the meantime it appears the Commishes are about to embark on a fee for all services renedered to the cities by the county. Sort of looks like double taxation from down here in the trenches. City folks can look forward to tax bills from both the city and the county for stuff if your get what is happening here.
Caldwell residents should be asking why wasn't Mayor Nancolas paying attention to efforts to bring him into the discussions early on in this vital issue? His pleading he didn't receive notification on this matter is "weak sauce" at best and incompetence in discharging the duties and responsibilities of his office on the extreme end.
Mayor Nancolas says his door always open but he is never there and his staff can't seem to get vital information and communications to him in a businesslike manner. (Meanwhile the city of Caldwell has not yet responded to our public records request in this matter placed earlier this past week.)
More to come as this unfolds and more info is received.
Posted by Paul Alldredge at 2:08 PM