The Spokane City Council voted to defer a proposal that would have kept the city out of a new emergency communications system during a special meeting Thursday.
Councilwomen Lori Kinnear and Karen Stratton were the only council members to vote against deferring the proposal, and added that their concerns about merging the city’s 911 system for fire and police with a new regionwide communication center had still not been addressed.
Council members voted to defer the proposal for one month, and said some of their questions about safety, funding and city employees had been answered, but they were still waiting for more information. Spokane Regional Emergency Communications, the new communications system, told the council it had until May 21 to reconsider joining.
Steve Reinke, executive director of SREC, said the county’s agencies will integrate into the new system regardless but will work on negotiating with the city to get the police and fire department dispatch teams to transfer to SREC, something that’s very important, he said.
Reinke said SREC will work with City Council members to determine and agree on what the city’s contribution to the SREC will be, among other items. The city also wants another seat on the SREC board, four rather than three, but the county commissioners hold the power in that decision. He expects the negotiations to take more than a week, but he’s confident they’ll come to an agreement, he said.
Councilman Breean Beggs said the resolution, which accused the new agency’s board of refusing to answer questions and setting arbitrary deadlines, could be read as a “poke in the eye” by SREC.
He said he still would like to negotiate with SREC face-to-face, rather than exchanging letters. The City Council also has already passed an ordinance that stopped the city from joining the center, meaning the city can’t join SREC unless the council repeals the law.
Stratton said the council needed to stand up for city employees, who she said had been put in an awkward and unfair situation. She said the city has given SREC enough time to answer its questions about joining the new center.
Staff writer Will Campbell contributed to the reporting of this article.
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