City Manager supports surcharge for 911

By: 
MEGAN LINSKI

In May, voters will have the opportunity to decide on a 911 surcharge for Lenawee County residents, providing further support for emergency services. The surcharge proposes that the current $1.18 per month telephone surcharge be raised to $3 per month on all telephones for five years to fund 911 operations and an equipment upgrade. The fee would also provide adequate staffing. 

If the surcharge passes, it is likely that a new telephone system will be installed. The system will be capable of handling next-generation 911 services, such as text messages, videos and other data.

Several years ago, the state of Michigan reduced the telephone fee to $1.18 per month, causing reserve funds used to maintain the dispatch center to deplete. Officials have stated that the current surcharge does not provide adequate funding for the center.

City manager Dan Swallow is in support of the surcharge, which he stated is critical for Lenawee County. “Currently the communications and radio equipment is outdated and needs to be replaced,” Swallow said. “We need to make sure we have efficient equipment for our police and fire department. The City of Tecumseh supports the increase.”

Swallow said emergency services are dependent on the surcharge due to safety issues. “Certainly we believe it is a public safety concern if departments around Lenawee do not have up-to-date and functional equipment,” Swallow said. “We want to make sure if there is an incident communication can happen quickly and efficiently.”

Without the surcharge, Swallow believes resources for emergency services would be strained. “They would certainly have to operate inside the existing revenues for 911,” Swallow said. “A lot of our equipment would have to stretch beyond normal life, which would cause some concerns and potential equipment failures.”

An information campaign on the proposed surcharge will begin within the next few weeks. Due to Public Act 269, local governments are prohibited from expending funds or resources to communicate information about ballot proposals 60 days before an election takes place. Officials have until March 3 to inform residents of the proposal, at which time their campaign must be finished to fit within the confines of law.

Senator Dale Zorn has proposed a Bill to repeal the provision that bars local governments from sharing information about a local ballot 60 days before an election. If passed, House Bill 5221 would repeal Section 57 of Public Act 269. Officials would then have the ability to continue informing residents about proposals 60 days before an election, which Swallow said would help the 911 surcharge pass in Lenawee County.

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Tecumseh Herald

 

110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286
517-423-2174
800-832-6443

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