LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office has won a $400,000 state grant, most of which will be used for the transfer of North Tonawanda police dispatching duties to the Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff James R. Voutour told a County Legislature committee last week that the grant will cover major costs that North Tonawanda would have incurred for the transfer.
Six dispatchers were moved from North Tonawanda to the Sheriff’s Office payroll as of July 1, and North Tonawanda police calls have been dispatched from Lockport since then. The city’s fire calls have been the county’s responsibility for several years.
Mayor Robert G. Ortt said that the Local Government Efficiency Grant “is a further validation that this was the right thing to do.”
However, the grant doesn’t cover the salaries and benefits of the six dispatchers, which North Tonawanda committed to pay until the end of 2013. Ortt said the bill for the second half of 2012 was just over $200,000.
In 2014, North Tonawanda will pay 75 percent of the salaries and benefits. The city’s share will decrease to 50 percent in 2015 and 25 percent in 2016 before the county takes on the full burden.
Voutour said the lion’s share of the grant, almost $200,000, will pay for the new portable radios for every North Tonawanda policeman that the county had promised the city.
Those radios, like those for all other municipalities and fire companies, were to be part of the county’s $10 million emergency radio system upgrade.
“This grant will now cover that so the county doesn’t have to spend that money,” Voutour said.
The grant also will cover $90,000 for mobile radios in North Tonawanda police cars; $50,000 for a dedicated phone line from North Tonawanda Police Headquarters to the county dispatching center; $24,000 for new pagers for North Tonawanda firefighters; $12,000 to pay overtime for training the dispatchers; $3,000 for training materials; and $4,000 for the uniforms for the six dispatchers.
In all, the city saves $383,000 thanks to the grant, Voutour said.