York County commissioners could soon vote on scaled-back 911 center contract

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

The York County Board of Commissioners may vote at its next meeting to contract with IXP Corp. for management consulting services at the York County 911 Center, a county representative said Friday.

IXP would not be taking over management at the center, said Mark Walters, county spokesman.

"This is not going to be a company coming in and firing county employees," he said.

Instead, IXP would work closely alongside leadership, as consultants, and make recommendations to improve operations.

The company could implement minor changes without a formal process, but any recommended changes in personnel would require the  approval of county commissioners.

Walters said it's too early to speculate about whether any 911 center administrators could end up losing their jobs, and he declined to comment specifically about director Jacqueline Brininger.

Any contract with IXP would be a service contract for consulting, not for outside management, he said.

There was a public backlash earlier this year when the county approved a request for qualifications for outside management services.

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

The county hired IXP in January to perform an audit of the 911 center for $116,800 to suss out how to address the issues.

The audit report, released to the county in June, stated that management is not up to the task of making 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.

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At a July 24 commissioners' meeting, IXP Corp. President Larry Consalvos said that if the county chose to contract with IXP, the company would be "essentially taking over the nonunion staff."

First responders weren't thrilled with the prospect.

The Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 73, sent a letter to the commissioners July 31 blasting the board for considering hiring an outside management company.

"There is no scenario where passing the buck to a for-profit company, who has no accountability to the citizens, will result in the better delivery of service when it comes to the essential government function of providing 911 services," the letter read.

Matthew Emig, president of Lodge No. 73, said Friday that he'll weigh in publicly once he has more information about IXP's forthcoming proposal.

Walters said the commissioners heard the feedback and the concerns from first responders, the 911 center leadership and other stakeholders.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents the 911 dispatchers.

Steve Mullen, president of the local chapter of AFSCME, said in a story published Aug. 7 that he was cautiously optimistic about IXP.

"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."

IXP, based in New Jersey, was one of two companies to respond to the county's RFQ.

"The one from IXP checked off more boxes as far as what we're looking for," Walters said.

The county notified IXP on Thursday of its intention to move forward with the company, and IXP will be preparing a formal proposal for services.

No other details have been discussed yet, Walters said. If the county decides to come up with a contract based on the proposal, the commissioners will deliberate the terms in an open meeting, which could happen as soon as Sept. 4.

The other company that responded was MPS Consulting in partnership with AMP Global Strategies, Walters said.

"It’s understood at this point that this process is going to last into the next calendar year," he said, adding that any contract would likely last for at least six months.

Commissioners Susan Byrnes and Doug Hoke declined to comment further, deferring to Walters.

Commissioner Chris Reilly could not be reached Friday for comment. 

Byrnes is not seeking re-election this year, and Reilly failed to receive the GOP nomination in May's primary election. Hoke will be the only incumbent on the November ballot.

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