Madison County Commissioners approved the request of a levy increase which funds the county’s 9-1-1 emergency phone system Monday. The request to change, made by Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin, would increase the current levy’s .8 mill to 1 mill on the upcoming ballot in May — an increase which hasn’t changed since 1990.
The emergency phone system is a two-part, computerized system which dispatches calls for all emergency medical, fire responders and deputies across the county.
In recent months, the commissioners approved a replacement of the system’s backbone which, due to age and hardware issues, caused two failures from 9-1-1 calls. Being a two-part system, the calls were still answered and processed without a loss of time, but for Sabin the failures indicate the system is reaching its breaking point.
“Anyone knows, who has an eight or nine year old computer at home, that the system doesn’t stay working as well,” Sabin said. “Looking at it, I became concerned with how much we can trust this system.”
According to Sabin’s submitted request, the system received more than 16,000 calls to 9-1-1, 54,000 non-emergency calls and 30,000 incidents were dispatched last year alone.
“Over a period of 27 years, not only do the expenses increase, the demand for services increases,” Sabin said. “Dispatching emergency squad and fire has become more and more complex.”
With aid from other areas of funding, the current .8 mill levy generates approximately $616,000 per year. According to Sabin, the five year average cost of 9-1-1 has been $800,000 and doesn’t include upgrades, replacing equipment or increasing costs.
If the new levy passes, the money from the current levy would be rolled back and not collected. Increasing the levy from the .8 mill to 1 mill would boost the annual revenue from $926,403.00 to $1,158,004, changing the current $28 per $100,000 valuation to $35 per $100,000 valuation.
Sabin also said that there may be additional funding available to offset the costs to the cities, villages and townships.
“Being able to respond to all the calls is important,” Sabin said. “That system is the community’s first link to emergency services.”
Also at Monday’s meeting, the commissioners and county engineer, Bryan Dhume, heard a series of bids to tackle the Union Township roads resurfacing project near Madison Lake.
The project will be funded primarily by the Ohio Public Works Commission but county officials heard bids from five companies. Dhume said he would consider the bids and have his recommendation next Monday, Feb. 12.
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.