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Plan to Hire Sumner Dispatch Director Set

Leaders charged with overseeing operations of the Sumner County Consolidated E-911 and Emergency Operations Center have outlined the proposed salary and hiring process for the facility’s director, who they hope to have in place by July 1.

The decision was made Thursday, as all involved entities have now approved an agreement spelling out the operational and funding plan for the $4.8 million center. Anticipated to open by June, the dispatch facility is under construction on Airport Road in Gallatin.

Dispatch calls for the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Hendersonville, Gallatin, Portland, Westmoreland and Millersville police departments will flow into the center. Elected officials expect that shared information, experience, training and resources would avoid duplication of services and improve communication and response times. 

A six-member executive committee  consisting of a mayor, city manager or their designee from each of the six participating entities — voted 5-0 Thursday to set the proposed salary for the center’s director between $65,000 and $75,000. Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown was absent.

“That’s a good parameter if you think it’s attractive enough to hire the person we need,” said County Executive Anthony Holt, who suggested the salary range. “We have to be competitive.”

That range is on target, said Kevin Lauer, fire and emergency services management consultant with the University of Tennessee's County Technical Assistance Service. .

“I looked at Williamson and Robertson counties as your competitors and what you’re listing here is between those two,” Lauer said. “You’re definitely within your market. Hopefully, we’ll be bringing someone with 25 to 35 years of experience.”

The director’s salary does not need to be higher than the pay of either directors of the county’s Emergency Management Agency or Emergency Medical Services, said Buddy Shaffer, director of the current 911 dispatch center at the EMA/EMS building.

The goal is to post the formal job description by March 1 and keep it open for 30 days. The job will be advertised on the websites of the county, participating cities and industry-related associations. 

Portland Fire Chief Al West said the director should have hands-on experience in starting a 911 dispatch center.

Experts from CTAS and the Municipal Technical Advisory Service will look through the applications and narrow them down to the top five to seven candidates.

 additional experts, CTAS and MTAS will narrow the pool to three candidates, ultimately recommending one.

The center’s executive committee will make the final decision.

An operations committee made up of representatives from the sheriff’s office, county Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Medical Services, police and fire departments will be responsible for carrying out the general operations of the center and will draft all policies and procedures. That committee will report to the executive committee.

Leaders also plan to set the center's first-year operational budget in the coming weeks.

“We’re moving quite rapidly into budget season,” Hendersonville Mayor Scott Foster said. “I’d like to know what impact this will have.”

On Monday, the County Commission unanimously approved the final amended agreement. Partners that provide 20 percent or more of the funding — based on population and call volume — will be the only ones to chair the executive committee. As approved, only representatives of the county government, Gallatin and Hendersonville can hold the chairmanship. The amendment was brought up after Hendersonville leaders indicated higher-funding partners should have more representation.

The chairman of the executive committee is an important role as that person has the breaking vote. In case of a 3-3 tie, the chairman gets a second vote, which Holt called "a major compromise."

Reach Dessislava Yankova at dyankova@mtcngroup.com or at 615-575-7170. Follow her on Twitter @desspor.