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E-911 fund short on revenue

Friday, November 11, 2011

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During the Clay County Council meeting Monday evening, the council discussed the decreasing revenue for the E-911 fund. Verizon, the company used by the 9-1-1 service, was recently sold to Frontier, which has increased its fee by $1,500 per month. Because of the fee increase, the fund was more than $4,000 short. The council approved the additional appropriation.

"We've talked about potentially piggy-backing our money on one system with Vigo County and doing away with a lot of these monthly charges from phone companies," Sheriff Mike Heaton said. "It's going to cost a little bit more than we thought. We talked about doing it in-house and probably eliminating 85-90 percent of those fees, and that money stays here. There'll be an upfront additional cost though ... It's something we're still looking at."

Due to a decrease in wire line phones and cell phone fees not being sufficient enough, the income for the E-911 fund is drastically decreasing.

The council discussed how the issue is to be presented to the legislation. Heaton explained one of the options the legislation is considering is to raise taxes.

"There is talk within the legislation of adding a higher percent to the LOIT, increasing the percentage of what we can collect and a portion of that being dedicated to the E-911," Heaton said.

"In other words, they want to make us increase our LOIT tax, is that what you're saying?" asked President Mike McCullough.

"That is one option," Heaton responded. "Whether that passes or not, we don't know."

"A lot of counties don't even have LOIT," McCullough said. "And I have to think every county is hurting in their 911 funds."

Auditor Mary Jo Alumbaugh spoke up, "They are -- significantly."

In 2000, Clay County received $218,355 at a per line fee of $1.50. In 2006, the fee was increased to $2.65, bringing in $330,536. At the same per line fee of $2.65, the county received only $256,824 in 2010. The decrease in funding is a result of structural problems including fewer taxpayers maintaining wire line phones and an increase in pre-paid phones. The fees on the phones have not sufficiently compensated for decreases in wire line fees at increased costs.

The Clay County Commissioners and Clay County Council supported the enactment for the legislation that increases the funding for the E-911 system by passing Resolution No. 9-2011, which supports legislation for increased and stable E-911 funding.

"For people who run into their legislators, they can tell them it is extremely important we get this corrected," McCullough said.

Meanwhile, the council approved a request by the Sheriff's Department for $25,000 to replace reserve bulletproof vests. Sheriff Mike Heaton had made the request during a special meeting in October. The council had denied the request because it had been made through the General Fund. Heaton made the request through the Public Safety Fund this time as the council had asked. The vests need to be replaced every five years due to sweat and dirt wearing down the material.

Also during the meeting, the following items were discussed:

* The council approved additional county emergency appropriations, reductions and transfers as a group,

* The council approved an amended salary ordinance for a courthouse maintenance position,

* Regarding an issue discussed at the County Commissioner's meeting about a secondary air conditioning unit for the computer room in the Justice Center, Heaton said the council can wait until next summer to look into the issue. It is not something he is promoting right now, he said.

* The council passed amended salary Ordinance No. 24-2011, and

* The council passed Resolution No. 10-2011, supporting legislation of increased local road and bridge funding.



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