The Village of Lake Orion is considering moving its police operations to the former senior center on Church Street and consolidating its dispatch operations, possibly with Oxford.
The senior center has been vacant since Orion Township relocated the operation. Council President Ken Van Portfliet said the village could save some money by building its own holding cells there, and that village administrative functions could also be moved to the site.
“That might be a cost savings as well,” he said. A decision “is quite a ways off, if that happens.” Van Portfliet said the township currently owns the building but council has voted to accept it.
On Dec. 10, Police Chief Jerry Narsh told council that a study conducted by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments found that the village could save money on its dispatch operation by consolidating with another agency, specifically Oxford, which has a similar dispatch operation.
Village Manager Paul Zelenak said a village budget committee asked SEMCOG for the study. “The village council, during budget meetings, asked us to look at everything possible,” he said. “It’s our fiduciary responsibility to look at these things at all times.”
Lake Orion Police respond to police calls in the village; the sheriff responds to police calls in the rest of the township. The fire department responds to emergency medical and fire calls for both. Currently, the LOPD is the primary call center for landline, voice over Internet and some cellular calls for the village and township. The sheriff’s office receives most 911 cellular calls originating in the township. Both entities have to transfer some calls to the other.
The report suggested that Oxford would be the logical location for the combined dispatch center. It did not study other options, such as the Oakland County Sheriff’s dispatch service. In a Dec. 10 email to Zelenak and Van Portfliet (Patch was copied on the email), Major Robert Smith said the sheriff could save the village a lot more money.
“We believe we may be able to save you close to $200,000 a year by forming a partnership,” he wrote. “I would urge you and the village officials to include us in your fact-finding process.”
Orion Township, which operates the fire department, was also not involved in the study. “Extremely important is discussions with the township on this,” Zelenak said. “We provide services to them.”
Van Portfliet put the village’s potential savings at $53,000 per year if dispatch were combined with Oxford. However, some council members voiced opposition to moving the operation out of the village.
“I like our dispatch here. I don’t want to give it up,” Councilman John Ranville said. “I think it’s important to keep our services here.”
“I think discussion should continue but I think the township needs to be brought in as soon as possible,” said Councilman Mike Toth. “Our dispatch employees would be part of this. We wouldn’t be eliminating any of our employees to be part of this. I think that’s very important to say.”