Some Lake Co. towns don't want county to run 911 services

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates uncovered an audit that shows several Lake County cities could save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by letting the county handle all 911 calls.

But the Eustis and Mount Dora police chiefs said the numbers in the audit don't add up.

Lake County's 28,000-square-foot emergency operations center is now open, and the Sheriff's Office has moved into the 911 call center.

There, the sheriff's dispatchers answer the emergency calls for several of the cities, but a handful are holding out.

"We don't really get into other people's business. It's there if they want it. It's up to them," said Jimmy Conner of the Lake County Commission.

The new audit shows the cities of Eustis, Mount Dora, Groveland and Lady Lake could collectively save their taxpayers $640,000 a year by striking a deal with the sheriff to field their 911 calls.

Several cities in Lake County have already cut a deal.

Officials said the city of Clermont will save $200,000 a year, and Tavares about $160,000.

The audit shows Mount Dora would save $180,000, but Police Chief Randy Scoggins said the county's figures aren't what they seem.

"It would actually in the long run cost the city of Mount Dora more money, and the citizens that we serve would lose services," he said.

The chief said his dispatchers have local knowledge of the city, which means better police work.

But county leaders see things differently.

"I mean, at some point in time, you're accountable to the public," said Conner. "And when the public sees these opportunities for savings, they'll be asking, 'Why aren't we taking advantage of these opportunities?'"

Eustis Police Chief Fred Cobb said upfront costs erase most of the savings for his city, and he also prefers his dispatchers rather than the ones working several miles away from the city.