WOODMERE — The village is considering which path to take regarding its mass communication system, CodeRED. The village could keep the service through OnSolve at a cost of $2,000 per year for a three-year contract. The other option is to join Cuyahoga County’s system, which is also CodeRED through OnSolve, free of charge.

Mayor Ben Holbert said that these are both opportunities to connect with the community through an interactive voice response system that can range from civil alerts to weather emergencies. CodeRED can also be used when the administration or council members want to send a message to the residents.

“The major difference is control,” Fire Chief Johnny Brewington said at the Finance Committee meeting on Monday. “If you pay for the service, the control’s on your side. If the county pays for it, the control’s on the county’s side.”

Councilman Craig Wade asked the fire chief if he preferred one option over the other. Chief Brewington said that he has used both and they are pretty similar. He added that he would need to “brush up again” with the county program since the village has been using OnSolve directly for the last few years. The chief explained that it is easier to send out messages if the village controls the system.

“I’m asking the question since we’re in a time of boarding up stores and COVID-19 and everything like that, I just want all options,” Mr. Wade said.

The village has recently been trying to cut costs due to decreased revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Wade asked if the village could switch to the county’s free system for one year during the village’s “financial upheaval” then reevaluate which system is better next year. Chief Brewington said that he will direct that question directly to the vendor.

“It’s more of a safety issue than a finance issue,” village financial consultant Tom Cornhoff said.

The current contract with OnSolve ends at the end of June. Mayor Holbert said that the company is looking for a response as soon as possible. If council chooses to go with the three-year contract, it will need to be passed on emergency at the June 10 council meeting.

Chief Brewington said that if the council decided to go with the free county system, he is not sure how fast the village can make the transition. He emphasized that it is necessary to always have a mass notification system.

“I’m really leaning toward the no charge just because I’m in a cost saving mode but to Tom Cornhoff’s point, we don’t want to sacrifice the safety of our village,” Councilwoman Glenda Todd-Miller said. She asked the chief to reach out to the county to see what services the village may lose by switching to their free program.

In July of 2019, an OnSolve representative detailed changes that may come from switching to the county program in an email to the chief. The OnSolve representative, Michelle Gogarty, advised that contact groups will be moved to a new account and not all current features may be available as in the current CodeRED agreement, such as direct training and access to mapping.

Chief Brewington advised that he will reach out to the county and OnSolve to further discuss their services.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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