The town of Hollywood Park is complaining that Bexar County will soon begin charging it tens of thousands of dollars yearly for dispatching its police and firefighters to 911 calls.
Mayor David Ortega said the estimate he has been given is that it would cost Hollywood Park $25,000, which he said is a big blow to a small town’s budget.
Hollywood Park is one of nearly a dozen small cities in Bexar County that will be charged the new fees.
For years, Hollywood Park has paid for and equipped its own police officers and Ortega said if that was not the case, Bexar County would have to cover that expense with its deputies.
“When we call dispatch and we ask dispatch for an officer, the county doesn't have to dispatch a (deputy) sheriff,” Ortega said. “Instead, it dispatches our police force. In essence, you're getting a savings from the county by us using our own police force.”
He said not only that, Hollywood Park residents pay county taxes, which he said should cover the cost of dispatching.
“As citizens of Bexar County, we all pay for the county service,” Ortega said. “All of a sudden, last year, the county decided that it wanted to consider assessing a fee.”
But the county said these cities were warned years ago that the county would have to allocate a portion of the dispatch fees the county pays to the smaller cities.
County Commissioner Kevin Wolff said all of the smaller cities should share in the cost of the 911 dispatch system.
"They've essentially had free dispatching services since about 2007," Wolff said. “We budget over $600,000 a year that we pay to the City of San Antonio for the computer-aided dispatch.”
He said these cities are free to have their own police forces but must pay the cost associated with them, including dispatching.
He said county taxes do not cover it.
"It's very easy to say, 'Well, I already pay Bexar County taxes,'” Wolff said. “(And I said,) 'Yes, you do. And that pays for the sheriff and that pays for constables and that pays for all the judicial judges and the jail and the DA.'”
Wolff said Hollywood Park's fee is not the $25,000 the town fears, but more like $17,000 or $18,000.
He said the county wanted to assess the fee last year but backed off to give the small cities time to plan for the fee in their budgets.