WATERLOO — It may cost several million dollars to replace failing software in the Black Hawk County Consolidated Dispatch Center.

But the county Board of Supervisors balked Tuesday at picking up the proposed $340,000 cost for a consulting firm to help the dispatch center pick the right replacement software.

The request failed on a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Linda Laylin, Craig White and Chris Schwartz voting against it and supervisors Frank Magsamen and Tom Little supporting the expense.

The Criminal Justice Information System board asked the county to pay for the contract with DELTAWRX Management Consultants, of Woodland Hills, Calif., using bond revenue leftover from construction of a new $8.7 million E911 radio communications system.


The CJIS board, made up of police chiefs and the sheriff, does not have enough money to pay for the consultant itself and also would be looking at ways to purchase the new software system, which is estimated at $2 million to $3 million.

Cedar Falls Public Safety Director Jeff Olson, a member of the CJIS board, said the current Shieldware software, which the dispatch center has used for 25 years, is having problems, freezing up and sometimes losing calls.

“The thing that scares me the most about this software is that you have calls disappear,” Olson said. “It could be something as simple as a stolen bicycle or it could be an ambulance call. That’s a very serious problem.

“We don’t look at this lightly. This is a large expense. But we need to make sure we can do our job without some critical errors.

“This is a $2 million piece of software. We can’t afford to make any mistakes,” he added. “Frankly, none of us — chiefs or sheriff or any of our staffs — have the ability to do this and to do this right.”

County Finance Director Susan Deaton said bonding attorneys indicated the county could use the remaining bonds from the radio tower to pay for the software consultants but only if the software was eventually purchased. Should the project not move forward, the county could be responsible to pick up the cost from other sources.

Laylin said she was disppointed the CJIS board did not raise the issue with the supervisors earlier, given the board was expecting the county to foot the bill.

She also noted the county is facing a number of other projects that need funding at the same time it’s struggling to cover budget overruns at the Country View care center and girding against the potential loss of $1 million in state property tax replacement money.

“Those bond funds could be used for other things,” Laylin said. “We’re coming up to some pretty important, millions of dollars in decisions that we have to make as a board in this next year.”

The CJIS board was expected to meet this morning to discuss its options.