June 6, 2011 – Despite safety concerns from community members and 911 dispatchers, the Hollister City Council voted 4-1 to contract out 911 emergency calls to Santa Cruz County.
“There are some very rural areas here,” said Martha Booker, President of SEIU Local 521 San Benito County chapter. “The call center here is familiar with the area and Santa Cruz is not. If there’s an emergency in an area that Santa Cruz dispatchers are not familiar with, that’s a liability.”
The City of Hollister and San Benito County both share the cost of providing 911 services. Both are aiming to outsource these services to a Santa Cruz County agency.
With Hollister’s June 6 vote, the issue will now go before the San Benito County Board of Supervisors.
But moving these vital services is not the in community’s best interest, said Robbie Russell, 911 Dispatch Supervisor.
“We should keep local control of our 911 services,” Robbie said. “Once you contract out essential services like 911, what’s to keep them from contracting out other services? It depersonalizes the whole service.”
911 dispatchers and community members staged a rally before the city council meeting and then spoke to the City
Council about the potential dangers of outsourcing these services.
Among the concerns were:
- There was no independent study or competitive bidding: The Santa Cruz County agency itself conducted a study that proposes it take 911 services from San Benito County.
- Blank check: The “No Cap” contract with Santa Cruz County sets no limits on what they can eventually charge the city.
- Hurts local jobs: With a 20% unemployment rate, San Benito County and Hollister businesses need more local services, jobs, and revenue. Not less.
- Safety risks: When every second counts, leaving life-and-death decisions to an agency 40 miles away presents serious safety risks.
What’s next: The issue is exected to go before the San Benito County Board of Supervisors for a vote as early as June 21, 2011.
In the News:
June 6, 2011 | Hollister OK’s 911 merger with Santa Cruz County (MercuryNews.com)
June 3, 2011 | Hollister to decide on contracting out 911 calls, poses serious safety risks (Press Release)