Black Mountain, Montreat to consolidate dispatch services with Buncombe County
Black Mountain and Montreat will be consolidating its emergency dispatch services with Buncombe County following a Jan. 11 decision by the Board of Aldermen. The county previously provided dispatching for Weaverville and Woodfin.
Town manager Josh Harrold said calling 911 will not be any different under the new system. The intergovernmental agreement between the county and Black Mountain says the system will provide "more consistent and effective service delivery" and "greater opportunities for interagency response and backup."
Additional benefits listed by the agreement include:
- Eliminated call transferring
- Staffing improvements to provide enhanced coverage for 24/7 operations
- Better data sharing between agencies and responders in the field
- Enhanced opportunity to leverage 911 Fund allocation
- Potential expansion opportunities for alternate response methods through consolidated training and procedures
Black Mountain will pay the county $161,000 annually under the new agreement.
"I do think as this moves forward with the county and everything being housed in the county, I do think that it's going to provide a better service," Harrold said. Black Mountain Chief of Police Shawn Freeman "would probably echo" support for the consolidation.
A consolidated dispatch would result in a single channel for the county Sheriff's Office and a channel for all county municipalities combined. Harrold added that he believed the new service would be easier than each municipality having individual dispatch services.
The decision by the Board of Aldermen forced Montreat, which acts as a backup service to Black Mountain's emergency services and vice versa, to consolidate its services, Montreat Chief of Police David Arrant said.
Changing to the new service would require adjustments from both agencies.
“It’s definitely going to take some getting used to, but it should be effective over time,” Arrant said.
A previous system in conjunction with a partnership between officers from both towns using the same radio channels required Montreat to pay Black Mountain $21,168 annually with a 5% annual increase.
Moving toward a consolidated service would save Montreat just over $11,000.
Montreat town administrator Alex Carmichael noted to commissioners that the Black Mountain-Montreat partnership "provides a higher degree of officer safety" as officers from both agencies respond to calls.
Both Harrold and Carmichael said each town's respective non-emergency numbers would still be available and would be unaffected.
Montreat mayor Tim Helms said he was concerned whether the towns would lose its partnership.
“My main concern initially was whether our officers would be able to communicate with officers from Black Mountain for backup, should they need it,” Helms said.
This system would keep the neighboring towns on the same channel, but could result in more crowded radio traffic from other Buncombe County municipalities, Carmichael said.
Alderman Ryan Stone says he believes the decision will be beneficial.
"I do think it'll bring a better and higher quality service to the town and help with interagency communication," Stone said.