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

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch

IXP Corp. offered to take over all nonunion positions at the York County 911 Center immediately after releasing its comprehensive audit detailing severe structural issues at the facility.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey-based company, which specializes in analyzing and overhauling 911 centers, presented its audit of the county's 911 center to a full room of county commissioners, emergency services personnel, political candidates and residents.

The audit detailed a "broken" structure that IXP Corp. President Larry Consalvos said would require a complete overhaul to prevent the center's performance and employee management from degrading further. He also said he has a solution to the problem, should county commissioners opt to contract with the firm to run the center.

"It's essentially taking over the nonunion staff," Consalvos said. "Our goal is to keep everyone whole financially to give them more career opportunities outside of York County so they can work in other places around the country."

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

More:York County 911 Center deputy director quit in March

The company would welcome back former employees, hire locally, maintain benefits and salaries while providing a quality work-life balance, he added.

York County paid IXP more than $116,000 to conduct the audit, which has been ongoing since January. Consalvos on Monday detailed various failures within the facility, acknowledging they sounded "harsh."

The 911 Center has struggled with staffing and retention issues for years, problems that some current and former dispatchers say have worsened under director Jacqueline Brininger.

Not naming anyone specifically, the audit found that administrators in the facility are too heavy-handed with employees and have failed to cross-train them, which leads to poor scheduling, massive overtime costs and a lack of trust among the staff. 

And although the center received praise for its state-of-the-art technology, administrators have failed to interact with police, fire and emergency medical service personnel or address their complaints over the years. 

There was a large crowd of at least 50 individuals at the Wednesday meeting, yet only three individuals spoke during public comment.

Lisa Witmer, who works as a terminal agency coordinator in the 911 center, broke the long-standing silence among employees who have feared that if they speak out they would be disciplined or lose their jobs.

"I feel that the current employees that are in those positions are more than qualified to affect the changes presented in the audit," Witmer said. "For another group to come in as a liaison, that would be a great help. But to potentially replace (current employees) with others would be detrimental to our center's operation."

Lisa Witmer, who works as a terminal agency coordinator in the 911 center, addresses the York County Commissioners after they heard a report from IXP Corp. who recently completed a 911 Center audit, Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The suggested solution by IXP is reminiscent of what happened at Pleasant Acres Nursing Home when the county decided to privatize it last year, she said, which is something that 911 employees hope to avoid.

Ron Smith, a Republican candidate for the York County Board of Commissioners suggested the commissioners put off any decision until a new board is seated in January. All three seats are open come November.

President Commissioner Susan Byrnes rebutted, saying she and the commissioners who have been dealing with these issues for years are well-informed about the center's struggles.

All three commissioners after the meeting said they haven't yet made a decision as to whether outsourcing management is the best solution. They also dismissed the possibility of there being a conflict of interest if IXP were to take over management after receiving $116,000 from the county, citing a "level playing field."

York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes announces that the commissioners will not make a motion on any action concerning a report from IXP Corp. who recently completed a 911 Center audit, Wednesday, July 24, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

The county board approved a request for qualifications seeking applications from companies that could take over management at the facility. Byrnes said a couple of companies have already expressed interest and that she's hopeful more will come forward.

Commissioner Chris Reilly, on the other hand, said he predicts "we're not going to get a lot back," adding that it's possible they go with IXP if there is a lack of qualified respondents.

Reilly also noted the county has known about the issues presented in the audit for years. He said the money spent on the audits was worthwhile because companies, such as IXP, offer expertise beyond what's available within the county itself. 

"I've been dealing with this for 25 years," Reilly said. "These exact same issues have been pandemic to the facility. I'm not pointing fingers at anybody. If you look at it in context, obviously all 911 centers are fraught with these kind of problems."

IXP's audit marks the third of its kind in two years. Unlike the others, IXP is associated with privatization efforts. 

IXP has acquired six 911 centers in Michigan, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Georgia in the past four years. It also has made several bids that have failed or are still pending.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.