BROOKSVILLE — Hoping to forge a better relationship with Hernando County and trim expenses, the City Council has unanimously approved transferring police and fire dispatch services to the Sheriff's Office.
Monday night's vote will save $204,000, officials said, while providing more efficient responses and reducing confusion among the first responders.
Officials hope to complete the merger no later than June 1.
"This is a significant moment in history," said City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha. "There's been a lot of pushing and pulling between (Brooksville and Hernando County) over the years, but this gets us on the right track."
The agreement follows a recent mutual aid pact between the Brooksville Fire Department and Hernando County Fire Rescue, which is expected to create more streamlined responses to such emergencies. That measure, approved by the council Feb. 4 and the County Commission a day later, ends jurisdictional lines and allows for response by the closest agency.
Brooksville police Chief George Turner said the dispatch pact would accomplish virtually the same thing. "It's a good deal all the way around," he said.
Once council members officially approved the deal, Sheriff Richard Nugent went around the dais and shook the hand of each council member. Nugent and Brooksville Mayor David Pugh then signed off on the agreement, with council member Lara Bradburn snapping pictures.
"It's been a long time coming and we're excited about moving forward and working together," Pugh said.
But not everyone shared his excitement.
As of Tuesday, only one of the city's five full-time dispatchers — Dawn Henry — had taken up Nugent's offer to apply for hire. Dispatch supervisor Ronald Gossett said Tuesday that he planned to submit an application, but as a taxpayer, he had reservations about the plan.
"I'm not happy with it, but there's nothing we can do about it," Gossett said. "If we're not going to get services from the city, why should we pay (city) taxes?"
Joel Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or 754-6120.