Townships OK dispatch service agreements

By David Fleet
Brandon Twp. — Both Groveland and Brandon townships board of trustees recently approved three year Fire Dispatch Service Agreements with Oakland County.
Similar to previous agreements, individual municipality costs will increase or decrease based on the average number of 911 calls over the last three years. And while the rate reflects increased personnel costs for salaries and associated fringe benefits, the agreement also includes a new 7.5% indirect cost as required by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. Both boards grappled with the purpose of the additional costs now placed on local taxpayers of Oakland County.
On March 11, the Groveland Township Board of Trustees voted 5-0 to approve the Fire Dispatch Service Agreement. The costs will jump from $35,099 to $41,275 for 2024-25, then increase by 3% to $42,517 for 2025-26 and another 3% to $43,791 for 2026-27.
“All of the supervisors were very upset with this,” said Bob DePalma, Groveland Township supervisor. “After checking it would appear that’s not the sheriff that asked for the extra money. I was informed it was the County Commission David Woodward and County Executive David Coulter that decided they want extra money to fund other projects.”
“We’re kind of over a barrel,” he said. “We either use (911) or we have to have smoke signals. We need 911. They do a good job, but we get upset when the cost goes up and they cannot justify why.”
On April 1, the Brandon Township Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to also approve the Fire Dispatch Service Agreement. The yearly rate jumped from $46,953 to $60,526 for 2024-25, then increased by 3% to $62,348 for 2025-26 and another 3% to $64,215 for 2026-27.
“The other part of that contract increase is also due to our call volume,” said David Kwapis, Brandon fire chief. “Our history has shown us that our average call volume is 1,506. We really don’t have another option to go.”
“Long story short, they’re the only public safety answering point,” he said. “If we were to go somewhere else, they would answer the call and then transfer it to another agency, re-give all the information, and then call us out. So all it would do is delay our customer service to our residents, and we don’t want to do that. It increases our response times. It’s not the (Oakland County) Sheriff’s Department that is including the 7.5%.”
Oakland County Commissioner Board Chairperson David Woodward (D) responded to The Citizen newspaper regarding the cost hikes.
“We are able to provide exemplary dispatch services to local communities at a cost less than if the service was provided by the local community themselves,” said Woodward. “We are glad to continue the partnership.”
“The cost for these services includes all direct and indirect costs associated with delivery of the service,” he said. “The indirect costs are calculated by a third party on an annual basis and includes non labor costs necessary to carry out dispatch operations such as facility, technology, and direct administrative services. The total fee only recovers the true cost of the service.”
Bob Hoffman (R), Oakland County commissioner District 7 which includes Groveland and Brandon townships said they were blind sided by the increase.
“The only way the commissioners learned about this hike was when the village managers and supervisors started calling us and asking questions,” said Hoffman. “Rather than telling us ahead of time they just sent the letter with the Fire Dispatch Service agreement out to the communities. Two or three of us commissioners voted to implement the increase however make that change over time, it’s a big hike all at once for the small municipalities.”

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