Letter to the Editor

911 sales tax is needed for dedicated dispatch system

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dear Editor:

I'm writing in support of the 911 proposal on the Aug. 4 ballot. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was chairman of the committee that selected the current city manager and was on the committee, which interviewed and hired the chief of police. I have also served on the planning commission for a number of years. However, that has nothing to do with how I feel about the 911 system.

Our current system was developed in 2009 by combining the city and county dispatching operations and using mostly the equipment on hand at the time. The program was funded and managed by both the county and the city. That relationship was rocky from the start for a variety of reasons.

In the current set up, the dispatchers on duty also watch the prisoners and perform other administrative duties at the county jail while taking emergency calls. If there is a fire or other emergency in the county the system quickly becomes overwhelmed to the point that police officer can't get through to a dispatcher.

The system, as with nearly all electronics, is outdated and needs replacing. I hate taxes as much or more than the next guy, but we need to bite the bullet and get on with this.

* We need a separate board, accountable to the taxpayers, to manage this operation.

* Modern equipment, which will support three or more dispatchers during emergencies or peak periods.

* The dispatchers should be dedicated to 911, not splitting time as clerks and jail helpers

* The county mapping project should be finished asap. An emergency call location from any place in the county should be pinpointed instantly to get the emergency responders there with no wasted time. Minutes can save lives.

The sales tax seems to be the fairest way to pay for this service. The cost is spread over city and county residents as well as visitors to our community.

My family will be voting YES on Aug. 4 and we hope you will join us.

John J Flynn,