‘More time needed to consider the issues’

Some recommendations made, others tabled by Communications Commission Technical Oversight Board

The Marshall County Communications Commission still has several decisions to make in its formative days, and some recommendations for action will have to wait.

The commission’s Technical Oversight Board (TOB) met Monday night at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office to elect officers and discuss recommendations for a communications manager, 911 employee job descriptions and more.

“Having things in place for an organization that is new, knowing that we’re kind of working from behind, is fairly important,” said Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser to the eight TOB members of the Communications Commission, which oversees a levy for 911 employee salaries and benefits.

As part of the 28E agreement that created the Communications Commission and the levy, 911 operators went from being city employees to commission employees.

TOB members include Chairman and Marshall County Chief Deputy Joel Phillips, Vice Chairman and State Center Police Chief Jeff Bunn, Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper, Melbourne Police Chief Mike Ball, Marshalltown Fire Chief David Rierson, Randy Mommer of the Marshall County Fire Association, Phil Summers of the Marshall County EMS Association and Heather Grobe of UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown.

Marshalltown Police Department Administrative Assistant Alicia Hunter as the TOB secretary.

After electing officers, the TOB tabled a decision to recommend a manager for the Communications Commission, as well as recommendations for organizational structure and personnel policies.

However, the TOB did pass a recommendation for 911 employee job descriptions as provided by Marshalltown Human Resources Director Jill Petermeier. A recommendation to transfer the employees’ union agreement from the city to the Communications Commission also passed unanimously.

“I’m sensing … that the board needs some more time to consider the issues of organizational structure and communications manager,” Tupper said after discussion on those two subjects; his motion to table both was seconded by Bunn and carried 8-0.

The issue of finding a communications manager to recommend to the Communications Commission was caused, in part, by the current budget having no room for a new position to be created.

That budget allows for 13 employees, and all 13 positions are filled. As a result, Public Safety Communication Supervisor Teresa Lang has been acting as the communications manager; she said she has “full confidence” in her abilities to carry out the position’s duties.

The personnel policies item was tabled due to a communication issue.

Kinser said the policies were sent to TOB members via email as a zip file on Jan. 26, but many members indicated that they did not receive the document.

“I make a motion that, since we’ve had an issue with everybody getting the personnel policies, we table that till the next meeting as well, to give people an opportunity to review it,” Rierson said.

That motion, seconded by Ball, also passed 8-0.

Discussion, but no action, was also had on 911 operators’ concerns about changes in permissions on the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) information sharing system used by emergency responders.

“This is probably a non-issue for the TOB board at this point,” Phillips said of the CAD item on Monday’s agenda. “We cannot mandate an agency to give permissions to somebody.”

The items tabled at Monday’s meeting will not come before the Communications Commission at its next meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6 at the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, 2369 Jessup Ave.

To give members more time to review information, the TOB set its next meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13 on the third floor of the Sheriff’s Office building.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com