EDITORIAL: St. John must get over E-911 hang-up

2013-08-29T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: St. John must get over E-911 hang-up nwitimes.com
August 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

St. John officials are complaining about their share of funding the consolidated E-911 operations. Just what we need -- yet another obstacle in the path of this project.

St. John Town Attorney David Austgen said if Lake County's plan for funding a consolidated E-911 dispatch service isn't challenged, St. John's taxpayers could be charged nearly three times as much per call as taxpayers in Highland.

St. John officials say each call would cost that town's taxpayers $71, but only $25 per call for Highland taxpayers.

It's true the formula must be fair, but also consider there are more factors than just the number of calls for assistance or even the population of those communities.

Consider also that cities with declining population often see their daytime population soar as people who live in the suburbs go to jobs in those cities.

Under the funding formula, cities and towns would be expected to contribute a total of $6.6 million annually to fund the service. That might seem outrageous, but only if you don't realize that's how much they already are spending for dispatch service.

Besides, communities are being asked to pay what they're already spending, not more. If St. John officials don't like how much they would pay for the consolidated service, perhaps they should explain why they have been charging their residents that much up to now.

Like every other Indiana county, Lake County is required by state law to accomplish E-911 consolidation or forfeit state funding collected via a surcharge on phone bills. The time for complaining about the law is past. It's time to comply with it.

As is often the case in Lake County, turf wars have erupted in the path of progress. Lake County is far behind on consolidating the 17 community-based police and fire dispatch centers.

Among the results of this feuding has been controversy over seeking bids for equipment. Has so much time been lost already that it's too late to put this project up for bids? That shows the cost of these political squabbles.

And now St. John officials are quibbling over that town paying the same as it has in the past for dispatch services.

There have been enough obstacles put in the path of E-911 consolidation as it is. Don't add another.

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