JACKSON, Wyo. \u2014 A task force assigned to present solutions to a near-crisis shortage of staffing at the Sheriff\u2019s Office Dispatch Center met with elected officials Monday to explore options.\r\n\r\nAmong some 25 alternatives considered, the group presented six of the highest priority including increased pay, consolidation of services, professional recognition, and a new facility.\r\n\r\nThe task force consisted of Sheriff Matt Carr, Lt. Chett Hooper, Communications Manager Riclyn Betsinger, JPD Chief Todd Smith, Lt. Roger Schultz, BCC Administrator Alyssa Watkins, Director of Human Resources Julianne Fries, Town Manager Larry Pardee, Assistant Town Manager Roxanne Robinson, JH Fire\/EMS Chief Brady Hansen, Battalion Chief Mike Moyer, and Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs.\r\n\r\nCarr shared with electeds the dire situation at dispatch, where an understaffed group has been working mandatory overtime shifts for years. The Sheriff has had little luck so far with increasing salary as an incentive to hiring. Carr has asked for a jump from the current starting rate of $46,791 a year to $54,167 in his FY2021 budget.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe are one dispatcher away from not being able to answer 911 calls 24\/7. That is our current crisis,\u201d Carr said at a joint meeting Monday. \u201cOur dispatchers cannot take time off; they cannot be sick without us having to bring somebody else in to work overtime to cover that shift.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe dispatch center is currently staffed by 8 fulltime members; 16 is considered fully staffed. Two additional dispatchers are currently in training.\r\n\r\nTown Council members expressed their desire to help but alluded to budget constraints that would make additional funding extremely difficult. Councilman Jim Stanford broached the idea of outsourcing the dispatch center to Lincoln County. Carr didn\u2019t care for that notion.\r\n\r\n\u201cSo, you want to outsource the jobs out of Teton County, why would we go to Lincoln County? Why not go to India? Sri Lanka?\u201d Carr responded.\r\n\r\nThe Sheriff reminded electeds that having someone living locally to answer 911 calls was crucial. Only a local, for instance, would be familiar with colloquialisms and geographic micro-terminology like \u201cthe old Puzzleface Ranch\u201d or the \u201cWindy Mile.\u201d\r\n\r\nRemote dispatching would also be a problem for areas that still need to be covered by analog phone service rather than by broadband internet.\r\n\r\nHow they voted\r\n\r\nA couple of electeds have visited the dispatch center to get an idea of what goes on and how demanding and critical the work is. Stanford, for one, came away enlightened.\r\n\r\n\u201cSeven years ago, I went charging over to the dispatch center because we were looking at the budget and thought, \u2018Wow, this is a staggering sum of money and potentially a big increase,\u201d Stanford remembered. \u201cI looked around and saw what the work was, and how few people there were to do it, and how they could barely even take a bathroom break. It was the first of what would become many times where I would have my ass handed to me in this role.\u201d\r\n\r\nMayor Pete Muldoon expressed the council\u2019s worry over the financial implications of a pay raise.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not a joint department. We don\u2019t really have oversight over this agency. We don\u2019t look at the budget, really. We kind of get handed a bill\u2026there\u2019s some long-term problems there,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\n\u201cSo, I guess what I\u2019m hearing is, \u2018I support increasing wages but I\u2019m not sure I have the money to pay for them,\u2019\u201d BCC chair Natalie Macker summated.\r\n\r\n\u201cBingo!\u201d Muldoon responded.\r\n\r\nStanford reiterated the oft-repeated refrain of former town manager Bob McLaurin, saying, \u201cIt\u2019s nothing money won\u2019t fix.\u201d He added that escalating costs of services in general is what concerns the town and the reason behind exploring a 7th cent of sales tax.\r\n\r\n\u201cThese are the very kinds of expenses we are struggling to keep pace with,\u201d Stanford said.\r\n\r\nThe council agreed to consider the Sheriff\u2019s Office FY2021 budget when it begins budget process discussions next month.