Three years ago, Montcalm County voters approved increasing a 911 surcharge fee from $1.89 per line to up to $2.85 per line per month to fund emergency calls.
However, Montcalm County Central Dispatch purposefully collected just $2.49 per line per month in an effort to be fiscally responsible, as well as respectful to the voters who approved the surcharge.
On Tuesday, voters will be asked to renew that same surcharge for all phones registered in Montcalm County, both landlines and cell phones. If renewed, the surcharge would continue to be an important part of Central Dispatch’s funding for the next five years.
Central Dispatch staff say if renewed, the millage would allow the dispatch center in Stanton to continue to provide the current level of servicae and staffing, as well as keep up with technology advances that will directly affect and ultimately improve speed and efficiency of helping community members, as well as the multiple law enforcement agencies who respond to emergencies.
With the funds approved by voters three years ago, Central Dispatch expanded its VHF radio coverage to comply with the FCC narrow-band directive, completed initial stages of an outdoor emergency siren system and updated equipment and consoles in the dispatch center. It also allowed for the transition of all police, emergency medical services and most firefighters to a 800 mHz radio system.
Last year, Central Dispatch received more than 32,000 emergency 911 calls in Montcalm County, as well as 40,000 nonemergency calls, resulting in sending the county’s multiple police and fire departments and emergency services officials to a variety of incidents throughout our communities.
We can’t imagine not having Central Dispatch looking out for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We think it’s one of our county’s most important services and we want it to continue to function like the well-oiled machine it currently is.
We support a vote in favor of renewing the 911 surcharge in Montcalm County.
Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.