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City of Racine Mayor John Dickert wants taxpayers across the county reimbursed for what he says are overpayments to the county joint dispatch center.
In a letter sent to County Executive Jim Ladwig Tuesday, Dickert says the joint dispatch agreement between the municipalities includes specific staffing levels that has never maintained.
Dickert’s letter was in response to the County filing a Notice of Claim in October against the City of Racine for unpaid bills for joint dispatch service totaling over $700,000. Two payments of $350,474.75 each have not been paid in 2014, and, according to the Notice, the city has no intention of paying them.
“On September 22, 2014, the City stated its position that although it too was satisfied with the services delivered under the contract, it does not intend to pay two outstanding quarterly invoices,” the Notice reads.
In his letter, Dickert says communities agreed to 51 full time staffers, but that level has never been achieved. As a result, he says city residents – and citizens of every other municipality who participates in joint dispatch – have overpaid and should get their money back.
“… Lower staffing has reduced expenses, so the taxpayers of this county have been overpaying for that decision,” the mayor wrote. “(We) have been charged as if there were 51 full time employees, while the County’s expenses during the first three years have been much less than the budget.”
Those savings, Dickert continued, amount to $1.1 million in savings, and city residents should get 55 percent of that amount refunded to them.
“I believe a 55% reimbursement of the 1.1 million dollar windfall received by the County is fair,” the letter goes on. “For that matter, I believe the residents of the Villages also have a right to a reimbursement based on the percentages each is paying for 51 full time equivalent positions.”
Dickert reiterates that Racine is happy with joint dispatch and isn’t interested in taking dispatch services back and that he hopes a successful resolution is reached without further court action or the dissolution of the dispatch agreement.
When Racine County Eye reached Ladwig Tuesday to ask for his reaction, he said that he disagrees with Dickert’s position and hopes the two sides can reach an agreement.
“The staffing level in the agreement means that if we go over 51, then no one pays more,” he said. “At this point we can go to arbitration, mediation or sit at a table and talk like adults to figure this out.”