York County 911's dispatcher union 'cautiously optimistic' about privatizing

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
An employee talks with a co-worker at the York County 911 Center Monday, July 31, 2017. County spokesman Mark Walters and lead training supervisor Roxie Tate talked with the media Monday, Feb. 26 regarding recent problems with the center's paging system. Bill Kalina photo

The union representative for dispatchers at the York County 911 Center is "cautiously optimistic" about potential new management under a private company.

If the York County Commissioners were to hire an outside contractor to take over management, dispatchers would remain county employees, said Steve Mullen, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

"I can’t honestly say whether it’s a good move or a bad move, but at least it’s a move," he said. "They’re trying something different to resolve the issues that have been there for quite some time."

Poor staff retention, over-reliance on overtime hours and other management woes have plagued the 911 center for years.

A recent audit by New Jersey-based IXP Corp. stated that current management is not up to the task of implementing the necessary changes to turn things around at the 911 center, so the company recommended bringing in outside help and offered its own management services.

A few of the problems outlined included poor cross-training, broken trust between the 911 center and public safety agencies, and a dispatch system that's too complex.

The commissioners issued a request for qualifications July 24, seeking applications from companies that could take over management at the facility. 

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, Aug. 14, the county solicitor said.

"At this point, we’re going to sit back, wait and see what happens and see if things improve," Mullen said.

More:York County eyes outsourcing management of 911 Center; meeting set for Wednesday

More:IXP Corp. offers to take over all nonunion positions at York County 911 Center after audit

Managers and administrators at the 911 center are preparing their own informal proposal for the commissioners with an in-house plan to deal with issues outlined in the audit report.

In a public post, Facebook user Tana Rockey identified herself as a longtime employee of the 911 center and said the managerial, supervisory and administrative staff are working together to create a plan for the center's future.

"Their combined effort will prove there is no need for the Board of Commissioners to seek an outside company to move the Center into a positive direction; the answers lie within," the post read.

Rockey declined to comment further.

The county commissioners said they're aware the 911 center's leaders are preparing their own proposal but that they haven't received it yet.

"We’re going to give them an opportunity to present a plan of action to us," said Commissioner Chris Reilly. "You know, I think that’s only fair. I welcome their input and look forward to seeing what they are proposing."

Commissioner Doug Hoke said he's open to all available options, and Commissioner Susan Byrnes said they'll consider the 911 center's proposal alongside the proposals from IXP and other companies.

No decision has been made yet, Byrnes said.

More:Fraternal Order of Police blasts York County board over 911 center

More:EDITORIAL: Potential 911 deal requires scrutiny