Portage County will use half a million in federal funding for a new dispatch center

County Commissioners last week earmarked $500,000 in American Rescue Plan funds for equipment and renovations to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center.

On Sept. 1 commissioners listened to Chief Deputy Ralph Spidalieri’s request for $800,000 to double the size of the center, expanding from four to eight consoles. At the time, Commissioner Sabrina Christian-Bennett said her vote was contingent on ARPA funding being available.

It is. But the other $300,000 will need to come from other sources.

Commissioner Tony Badalamenti said he expects his colleagues to find the estimated $300,000 it may take to complete the dispatch center: hiring an architect, assessing design work and acquiring appropriate furnishings.

“This is something that should have happened long ago,” Badalamenti said. “I’m very grateful we have the money to proceed to continue to make our sheriff’s office the very viable entity that it should be.”

Spidalieri said the sheriff’s office ordered the radios last week and expects to receive them within three months. The command staff is already working with county maintenance and building department staff to design and construct the new dispatch room, he added.

“We are definitely pleased with the outcome, and we’re looking forward to using the technology to upgrade services for the residents of this county,” Spidalieri said.

Portage County received more than $31 million in ARPA funds. The money may only be used to finance costs stemming from the pandemic; to respond to workers performing essential work; to maintain government services affected by revenue shortfalls; and to make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

With that in mind, the commissioners also approved $118,600 for payroll software. According to the resolution, the expense is allowable because the pandemic affected the county’s expected revenue stream.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.