Dispatch center causes disention

A decision over a computer system for Carson City's new dispatch center has caused a major rift within city staff and the board of supervisors.

Supervisors were asked Thursday to approve computer company Tiburon as the vendor for the city's new computer-aided dispatch center, which is already under construction.

Sheriff Rod Banister and Fire Department Chief Lou Buckley say a team of city employees worked for almost three years to find the best safety system for Carson City, and they want the Tiburon system.

They accused city "bean counters" of scuttling their decision and warned that the city's existing, antiquated system may not be ready for the Year 2000.

"The fire department's priority is the citizens, first. Workers follow closely upon this, and then we look at everything else," Buckley said. "This has turned into a political situation and we need to look at the citizens."

Two systems were considered by the city's software team, HTE and Tiburon. A full Tiburon Windows-based system would cost the city $1.4 million, while the DOS-based HTE system costs around $775,000.

The budget has roughly $932,000.

Despite Tiburon's costs, safety officials insist it is the better, safer system. Communications Operator Janice Ratliff, who tested the dispatch systems, said Tiburon should be the choice because of the ability to switch between windows to view different information.

"HTE is totally inadequate," Ratliff said. "You're asking dispatch to only see one piece of vital information at a time. I don't think there should be any consideration given to a system that is inadequate to our needs."

City Finance Director David Heath and internal auditor Gary Kulikowski fell under attack by Banister and Buckley for "11th hour memos" contemplating the cost and maintenance of the Tiburon system.

"People who have no clue what is involved in dispatch shouldn't make these decisions," Banister said. "There's more to this than bean counting. I don't want the sheriff's deputies or fire department to suffer because of political manipulation."

Heath's and Kulikowski's memos say future software additions, staff training and maintenance costs should be considered.

"First of all, this is not a personal issue and it keeps being personal," Heath said. "I'm relying on what the information services director's evaluation of the system. I'm very confident in his judgment. Why not consider the economic impact?"

Information Services Director Bill Naylor said both systems were top quality, and either would work for Carson City. Naylor has been involved in the system selection process from the beginning and said adding the Tiburon would mean hiring extra staff. The city runs on an HTE system, and the HTE system would require little retraining, Naylor said.

"I've looked at the systems and they'll do the job," Naylor said. "If there's a compelling reason to buy Tiburon, let's do it, but not only for personal preference, but economical as well. We need a new system. I hope this all gets worked out."

Supervisors refused to commit to the Tiburon system, but said they will make a decision Jan. 6 .

"It's unfortunate that the process here has been so polarizing," Supervisor Kay Bennett said. "How have we got to this? This is clearly a management situation, and this needs to be healed and healed quickly."

Bennett and Supervisor Pete Livermore voted to approve the Tiburon system, but Mayor Ray Masayko and supervisors Robin Williamson and Jon Plank voted to wait until January.

"This has gotten to be an emotional argument rather than a business one," Masayko said. "I don't think other communities are putting their cities at risk by using (the HTE) system."

Banister and Undersheriff Bill Callahan said they can't vouch for the current dispatch system's Y2K compliance. Both said the new dispatch operation is behind schedule and the supervisors' delay could put the center's opening into 2001.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment