The City of Fenton may eliminate its 911 dispatch

Fenton 911 dispatch

The City of Fenton is looking at getting rid of its 911 dispatch to save money.

The service has been around since the 1970's, and while some say it TMs time for the city to jump on the bandwagon with more than 20 other municipalities and use a central 911 service, others argue Fenton 911 is priceless.

Catherine Kane has worked as a 911 dispatcher for the City of Fenton for more than ten years, but she and three others could soon be out of a job.

I was devastated, I really like what I do, it's a small community and I recognize the callers, said Fenton 911 Dispatcher Catherine Kane.

Fenton City Council is considering getting rid of its dispatch to save $300,000 annually.

With the economy down and shrinking revenue, the chief of police says tough decisions need to be made.

I want to keep dispatch, but we need to be fiscally responsible, what we have to look at is what it is costing us, what we are getting from it, said Fenton Chief of Police Rick Aro.

Fenton is looking at using Genesee County Central Dispatch for its 911 calls.

But this resident wants to keep the service local.

I used it when my son was 16 months old. He had seizures and quick response time was really important to us, said Fenton resident David Jackman.

Some folks argue, since Genesee Central is much busier than we are, our lower priority calls might have to wait a few minutes, said Chief Aro.

30 seconds is a lot if a loved one is choking or someone is breaking into your home, said Kane.

Kane not only helps with emergencies, she also does paper work, and monitors criminals in the city lock up.

The chief says if dispatch is taken away, the lock up could go too.

Locking someone up overnight for a crime is a pretty good deterrent to keep people from doing it, said Chief Aro.

Kane says being a dispatcher is important to her, that's why she's applied for a job at Genesee Central, hoping if she's hired, she'll still be able to recognize the voice on the other end of the line.

The chief of police says if dispatch goes, about $150,000 in 911 surcharge revenue will go too.

Plus, the City of Fenton would have to pay for two new administrative people to handle the work load dispatch was taking care of.

On the flip side, if dispatch stays, Fenton will have to pay for a $300,000 equipment upgrade.

Council members say in the last few years, the City of Fenton has lost about $850,000 in revenue.