Cortland County Legislature Considering New Director of Emergency Response & Communications Department
With the new $16 million dollar emergency communications system well under construction, Cortland County lawmakers are now considering a plan to revamp the County Fire and Emergency Management Office. The plan includes creating a new department and a new management position.
During a special legislative session Wednesday evening County Administrator Martin Murphy released a proposal to eliminate the County Fire Coordinators position and replace it with a new Director of Emergency Response and Communications position.
Murphy says the new radio system is highly technical and the County Information and Technology Department is not equipped to handle the additional workload that will come with the new radio system. In addition this new position would oversee the emergency dispatch center and be responsible for dealing with the computer aided dispatch equipment that the County 9-1-1 Operators utilize.
Murphy says other Counties such as Tompkins County have similarly structured positions and departments.
Currently, the Fire Coordinators position pays over $30 thousand dollars a year, this new position with benefits is proposed at a salary of $95 thousand dollars a year. Murphy says the salary increase reflects the elimination of the fire coordinators job and the highly technical skills set this new position will require.
Legislator Kevin Whitney who heads up the County Judiciary and Public Safety Committee which oversees the 9-1-1 center and the Emergency Management Office says the fire service and police agencies rely heavily on the 9-1-1 center to function.
This change is necessary to meet the growing technical demands of the county’s public safety operations; he says currently there is no one in the county operation that posses the skills to properly manage and operate the new radio network and related components.
Lawmakers seemed generally in favor of the concept, the Judiciary Committee will vote on the changes today, with the full legislature voting on the new position at the end of the month.
The goal is to fill the position in March or April so that the new individual can work with Motorola as the company builds and finalizes the new radio network giving the new Communications Director an in depth ground up understanding of the new system.