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Last updateThu, 20 Nov 2014 12am

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High Springs weighs emergency communications options

HIGH SPRINGS – With the deadline regarding the Alachua County Combined Communications Center (CCC) fast approaching, the City of High Springs plans to hold workshops to discuss the cost and possibility of moving emergency dispatch operations back into the city.

On July 1, the city must report to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office the decision it makes regarding the CCC. If High Springs chooses to stay with the County, the city will be required to rename its streets and change street signs to be consistent with the rest of the county.

Alachua County operates on a grid system, which is centered on Gainesville’s University Avenue and Main Street. Because street addresses in High Springs do not conform to the grid system, when a call comes into the CCC, the current street names direct emergency responders to two separate addresses, one in High Springs and one in another part of Alachua County.

The cost of returning to a city-operated dispatch may be more than the city can afford, even though the commission seems to be in favor of bringing it back. Ron Langman, City Manager Jeri Langman’s husband, worked with city employee Ginger Travers and city Finance Services Director Helen McIver to provide the commission with estimates of the additional costs High Springs may incur if the transition occurs.

Ron Langman said the city could end up paying between $104,958 and $130,486 more a year than they already pay with the Alachua County Combined Communication Center. Annually, it is estimated the city’s local dispatch could cost between $225,072 and $246,100. Currently, the City of High Springs pays an annual average of $82,111 for the CCC.

Commissioner Linda Gestrin advocates bringing the dispatch back to the city to create autonomy. She said it is a drawing point to people searching for a future hometown that High Springs has its own police department and fire department.