• Hendricks County still searching for fair 911 funding

    July 13, 2011 No comments

    A funding solution for Hendricks County’s consolidated 911 emergency dispatch services is still being pursued.

    Eric Wathen, who serves on the communications center’s board, updated his fellow county commissioners on the situation at a meeting on Tuesday.

    The state requires every county to condense its emergency dispatch operations to no more than two entities by 2013. Hendricks is well ahead of that curve, having consolidated its 911 services to a communications center housed at the Plainfield Police Department years ago.

    Finding an equitable way to pay for it has been the difficult part. When the communications center was established, the county thought it would be easiest to just have every town pay what they previously spent on their own dispatch services. But those amounts vary widely. Danville, for example, pays about $210,000 annually to the 911 center while Avon pays about $84,000.

    In a story in today’s Hendricks County Flyer, Wathen said, “Some towns aren’t paying anything. Other towns aren’t paying their, quote fair share, based on population.”

    State government mandated consolidated dispatch services but didn’t decree a funding mechanism for it. Since Hendricks County is so far ahead of the game, State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon) proposed legislation establishing a public utility specifically for dispatch services. That died when Democrats left the state during the last General Assembly.

    Steuerwald plans on re-introducing the proposal, until then the communications board proposes offering either basic or enhanced dispatch service.

    Basic service guarantees emergency response for a community when 911 is called. Enhanced service guarantees keeping emergency equipment updated and functioning. Wathen is afraid most towns will opt for basic service and not pay anything. But he says they’ll pay a lot more to replace their own equipment. The county spent between $10 million and $12 million on technology for the 911center, and Wathen says it’s already getting obsolete.

    Michael Graham, administrator for the county commissioners, says a dedicated funding source for dispatch services must be found soon or the county could have a lawsuit on its hands, like what’s happening between Muncie and Delaware County now.


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