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Skaneateles Dispatch center's future still unclear

A waiting game.

The fate of the Skaneateles Communication Center now lies with the village and town boards.

The Citizens Dispatch Advisory Committee recommended keeping the dispatch center open at a joint village/town meeting June 11. It costs $300,000 to operate the center.

"At face value, it looks like a lot of money," said committee member Lee Buttolph, who has communications experience from time served in the military. "But then you realize one, this isn't a lot of money and two, the service the center offers is unrivaled it's a main reason Skaneateles is what it is."

Committee members held three public informational sessions, interviewed 40 department heads and experts and logged-in over 400 volunteer hours to reach the decision, which was unanimous, according to Buttolph.

From that experience, Buttolph said it was easy to recommend keeping the coordination of emergency personnel -- in part -- a local operation. The Onondaga County 911 Center handles any calls not directly phoned into the local dispatch center.

"Our dispatch center is knowledge-driven," he said. "They know things that other people from outside the area wouldn't know, for instance we saw the example of a county 911 operator not knowing there are two dumps here: Skaneateles Dump and the transfer station; our people know this."

The committee did recommend to the boards that the dispatch center upgrade, at the very least, its radio system.

For now, the village and town are awaiting the finalized written report from the committee, which Buttolph said is about 70 to 80 percent complete. The written draft contains the highly anticipated chairman's report from John Paddock, who chaired the committee.

The village and town clerks said no dispatch center-related items are scheduled for any of the summer board meetings.

The dispatch center has a contract to stay open for the rest of the fiscal year.

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