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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Residents won't feel 911 maintenance cost increase

Friday, August 7, 2009

(Photo)
(Sentinel photo by Magdalene Landegent) Senior Officer Jay King of the Le Mars Police makes contact over the radio in a Le Mars Police car. The costs to maintain the 911 radio system are shooting skyward, but residents won't have to foot the bill.
>Residents will not pick up the slack when it comes to paying more for emergency services despite 911 equipment maintenance costs nearly doubling.

For about 10 years those costs have been paid through a $9,000 budget.

Now maintenance costs will increase to closer to $16,000 a year, said Shawn Olson, Plymouth County 911 coordinator.

That doesn't mean residents who pay a $1 surcharge on their landline telephone bills will pay more, neither will 911 services' costs increase, Olson said.

"We don't have the capability of taxing more than $1," he said. "You are not going to see any increases on your phone bill from us."

The surcharge currently fully pays for operation of the county's 911 service, Olson said.

However that could change in the future as costs continue to rise and the number of landline phone customers drops as more people switch to cell phones, Olson said.

Cell phone users do not pay the $1 county surcharge, but they do pay one to the state.

"The money is getting tighter in more ways than one," Olson said. "We still have to fund 911 services."

The county's 911 surcharge was put in place to help pay for the initial purchase of new radio equipment and updates made in the last 10 years.

Close to $1.3 million has been used for new radio equipment for the emergency services agencies, Olson said.

The increased maintenance costs result from a recent inventory of the county's fire, police and ambulance communication system radio equipment that was replaced about 10 years ago.

A recent inventory of the 911 communication system equipment showed that warranties on some of the items replaced 10 years ago are starting to expire.

Those items are not covered under the initial maintenance contract, Olson said.

That means maintenance costs will rise closer to $16,000 to $17,000 a year to cover that additional equipment, Olson said.

With the additional maintenance costs, the board is weighing its options to find money to pay for the extra $7,000, he said.

One choice might mean taking money away from future projects like the board's intent to replace other equipment for agency use. Another option could be paying maintenance costs at the time of the repair rather than having an agreement, Olson said.

"What we're trying to do is make sure the equipment is being maintained and getting emergency services to the public," he said. "It's important to make sure this equipment is repaired as soon as a problem is found."


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Contrary to this story, the funds come from somewhere. These funds are taxpayer provided, just coming through a different means of taxation.

-- Posted by Michael Lamb on Fri, Aug 7, 2009, at 12:29 PM


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