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Marble Falls to handle Burnet dispatch

Marble Falls dispatcher Ralene Poncelow

Dispatcher Ralene Poncelow at her station at the Marble Falls 911 Communication Center, located in the basement of the Marble Falls Police Department. The center will begin fielding service calls from the city of Burnet in March 2024. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Marble Falls emergency dispatchers will answer public safety service calls for the city of Burnet following an interlocal agreement unanimously approved by the two city councils. Starting on March 4, 2024, the Marble Falls 911 Communication Center will provide dispatch for Burnet’s police, fire, and EMS.

“We are really excited about this venture and partnership,” MFPD Communications Manager Stacy Marberry told the Marble Falls City Council during its Nov. 21 meeting.

The city of Burnet will start out paying a service fee of $175,000, which will grow to $200,000 in the 2024-25 fiscal year and $225,000 in 2025-26. 

The fees were determined by Marble Falls’ previous fiscal year budget for dispatch multiplied by the average percentage of calls received by Burnet agencies over the past five years.

Marble Falls plans to expand its roster of dispatchers to prepare the communication center for an increase in calls, said City Manager Mike Hodge. 

“I’m anticipating with this change here that the workload could potentially at least double or increase by at least 50 to 75 percent,” he said. “After we evaluate it, we’ll probably bring a mid-year (budget) amendment back to (the City Council).”

Burnet officials approached Marble Falls with the idea several months ago.

“We met with their safety leadership and developed a partner strategy for dispatch services,” Marberry said. 

The deal marks the end of a prior dispatch service agreement between the city of Burnet and the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office. 

Marble Falls Mayor Pro-tem Dee Haddock was excited to approve the agreement.

“Anytime we can regionalize or combine our resources to serve the communities at large, it makes sense and benefits everybody,” he said.

The Marble Falls 911 Communication Center currently provides safety communication functions to the cities of Marble Falls, Granite Shoals, Horseshoe Bay, and Cottonwood Shores and the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department and Marble Falls Area EMS. The center is one of three public safety answering points in Texas to receive an Agency Training Program Certification from the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International, the largest organization of public safety communicators in the world. The center earned its certification after meeting training guidelines and national standards set by APCO International.

“(The 911 center has) grown into something really significant since this whole thing started over 20 years ago,” said Marble Falls Mayor Dave Rhodes. “They do an amazing job.”