Legislature On Hot Seat To Solve 911 Funding Challenge

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

December 8, 2010 Updated Dec 10, 2010 at 7:21 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- The challenge of how to raise more money for 911 emergency communications could pit local governments against the State of Indiana in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.

County Commissioner Nelson Peters says Allen County knows best its financial needs related to funding the city-county dispatch center and that Allen County residents would lose out, if the state takes the lead role in solving the 911 dilemma.

Allen County currently takes in almost $5-million less than is needed to operate its communications center.

Among the proposals that may be put to the legislature includes charging a technology fee on the purchase of cell phones, pre-paid phones, and computers to create a new revenue stream.

There's also talk of adding a monthly service fee to Internet and wireless phone bills, to go along with land-line phone fees charged now.

Peters says if the new revenue goes to the state first, then is disbursed to the 92 counties, Allen County will end up subsidizing counties where the service costs more.

Nelson Peters/(R) Allen County Commissioner: " Statewide, I think they've had trouble getting their arms around what the various costs are for each of the 911 centers. So, for them to try to create that assessment from on high, I think is going to do counties like Allen County a disservice."

The legislature faces a tough job trying to handle this situation.

Increasing people's property taxes by a prescribed amount is another way to raise the money for 911 services.

Sorting through all the options is difficult enough, but complicating things further is the fact this is a relatively unimportant issue compared to approving a state budget and completing re-districting, tasks that are mandated in the first four months of 2011.

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