Ripon Common Council approves dispatch agreement, talks security upgrades

The Ripon Common Council approved a dispatch agreement with Fond du Lac County Monday and discussed upgrades to City Hall security.

The Ripon Common Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the city and Fond du Lac County regarding the transfer of dispatch responsibilities to the county Monday.

City Attorney Lud Wurtz explained that the memorandum of understanding acts as a framework for how the dispatch transfer would work moving forward.

If the agreement were modified, Wurtz said it would have to be approved by both the city and the county.

“I’m confident that this is in the best interest of the city, in this respect, after the decision was made,” he said.

Under the agreement, the county will begin the process of preparing the transfer of all the functions of Ripon’s dispatch center to the county-wide dispatch center, which will be led by Fond du Lac County Communications and Emergency Management Director Bobbi Hicken.

Hicken will communicate with city officials and coordinate the transfer to determine the official transfer date.

So far, Wurtz said Fond du Lac County has “been a very straightforward partner with the city of Ripon.”

The agreement states that Ripon dispatch staff who choose to apply to work for the county communications center, which will require additional staff to take on Ripon’s dispatch duties, will be guaranteed an interview.

In addition, all operating costs related to the dispatch center will be Fond du Lac County’s responsibility by 2022, according to the agreement. Those costs include expenses related to staffing, equipment, operations and capital purchases.

As a result, $200,000 will permanently be transferred from Ripon’s tax levy base to Fond du Lac County’s tax levy base in 2022, the agreement stated. Ripon will not see additional tax reductions afterward.

“It’s a very good way to accomplish this on behalf of the citizens,” Wurtz said, noting Wisconsin state statute controls how the levy will be transferred.

Another outcome from the agreement is that Ripon will have three voting members on the county’s Administrative Review Board, with one representative from the Ripon Police Department, Ripon Area Fire District and Ripon Guardian Ambulance Service.

During the discussion of the memorandum of understanding, Ripon Police Chief Bill Wallner provided an update regarding safety upgrades to City Hall.

Ripon will pay for an emergency button for the lobby — ranging from $1,400 to $1,600 — while Fond du Lac County will cover the cost of security cameras.

Fond du Lac County will monitor the camera system 24 hours a day and a phone will be installed in the lobby for citizens to call if there is no one in the dispatch room, which will connect them to the county dispatch center, according to the police chief.

Wallner noted the emergency lock button can be used to “secure” the main entrance to City Hall, in front of the current dispatch center, if an intruder were to enter the building.

Regardless of whether Ripon consolidated its dispatch center with Fond du Lac County, Ald. Jim Werch added that the emergency button would have been a good idea to better secure City Hall.

“The additional costs of that [emergency button] isn’t really anything to do with the dispatch center, as much as it is about public safety,” Werch said.

Additionally, Wallner noted the city is looking at possibly putting ballistic glass on the outside entrance — on the side of the door as well as the door itself — to improve security.

He added the money for security upgrades is coming from approximately $25,000 the city already had set aside for upgrades to City Hall’s radio room.

“There’s no additional costs coming out of the budget,” Wallner said.

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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