A plan for a proposed regional dispatch center between three cities and the county has taken a major step forward.

A memorandum of understanding was signed June 1 by the mayors of Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge and Summit County to "mutually determine the process" to implement the consolidation of the separate dispatch operations.

This was the first action taken in many months regarding the proposal that the cities started looking at more than two years ago. The county joined in the discussion late last year.

"The MOU provides the County and the cities of Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Tallmadge with a roadmap of how to implement a professional and collaborative dispatch operation which will serve the needs of all communities involved," said County Executive Ilene Shapiro.

The proposal began with the idea of Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge forming a combined dispatch service under the supervision of a Council of Governments as a cost-saving effort. The COG would be governed by a board of trustees, which typically includes mayors and possible other community officials, such as police and fire chiefs and city council members.

The next step is to hire a consultant in the dispatch field to advise the parties on establishing the regional operation. Stow Mayor Sara Kline said the cost would be under $100,000 and divided among the four entities. She added the hiring of a consultant was not expected to take place before August.

The three City Councils and County Council would all have to approve any final plans for the regional dispatch and COG.