COLUMBIANA COUNTY Ameritech must help pay for 911

The county's share could be as much as $400,000.
LISBON -- The state public utilities commission is ordering Ameritech to use part of a $6.4 million fund to help create a 911 emergency telephone answering system in Columbiana County.
The commission issued the order Thursday, noting that the $6.4 million fund is made up of certain credits and waivers Ameritech owed its customers, as well as assessments against Ameritech for violating the state's minimum telephone standards.
Columbiana is one of three counties without 911 service expected to get a share of the Ameritech fund.
The others are Washington and Monroe counties. Other distributions also are expected to be made from the $6.4 million.
Share of money: Columbiana County's share could be as much as $400,000, Commissioner Sean Logan said this morning.
"This is great," Logan said. "Something broke our way."
County officials have been trying for years to establish 911 service, but have had difficulty finding a way to pay for installing the system itself and the expense of operating it.
The county's share of the Ameritech fund should be enough to pay for establishing the system, Logan said.
In April, the county hired William Staton and Associates of Coshocton to study the county's 911 need and develop ideas for 911 configurations to meet that need. Staton also is expected to provide cost estimates for each option, Logan explained.
Another question still looming for county officials is how to pay for operating a 911 system.
One option being considered by commissioners is putting on the ballot an issue asking voters to approve a 50-cent surcharge on monthly telephone bills.
The fee would raise about $300,000 annually.
It's doubtful, however, that such an issue will be brought before voters in the November general election because Staton is unlikely to be done with its study by then, Logan said.

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