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COL. COUNTY Officials mull 911 charge



Published: Thu, September 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Proposed surcharges for a 911 system have ranged from 50 cents to $1.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Columbiana County voters will be asked in the spring to approve funding for a countywide 911 emergency system.

Details of the proposed system, which has been planned for years, are still being worked out, Commissioner Dave Cranmer said Wednesday, after saying the funding vote will occur during the May primary.

Voters will be asked to approve a monthly telephone bill surcharge to pay for 911 operations.

Monthly surcharges ranging from 50 cents to $1 have been discussed. It's unclear what figure will be placed on the May ballot. A 50-cent monthly surcharge would raise about $300,000 annually.

Points of service

Area officials are still trying to determine operating costs and the system's configuration, including the location of answering points for 911 calls.

A consultant hired by the county suggested earlier this year that answering points be located in Salem, Lisbon, East Liverpool and East Palestine, which already have 24-hour dispatching services for their safety forces. The county sheriff's office in Center Township also has been suggested.

Equipment to create a 911 system is expected to cost from about $214,000 to $428,400.

To buy equipment, the county hopes to use its $400,000 share of a settlement Ameritech made with the state over a service dispute. The settlement includes payments to some counties, including Columbiana.

Compliance with regulation

In a related matter, Cranmer said Wednesday that the county has complied with a federal regulation enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The regulation requires that counties without 911 service ensure that any 911 call made there will be routed to a safety-service agency within the county.

Although most of Columbiana County is without 911 service, that doesn't stop people from dialing the number in emergencies.

Previously, 911 calls originating in non-911 counties were routed to operators outside the county, who tried to link the caller to the closest safety-service agency.

The routing by outside operators unfamiliar with a county wasted precious time in an emergency, officials determined.

The system now in place will route 911 calls to either the sheriff's office or police dispatchers in East Liverpool, East Palestine or Lisbon.

If a 911 call to one of these agencies is outside its jurisdiction, it will link the caller with the correct agency, Cranmer explained.

To meet the new federal regulation, county officials worked with telephone companies serving the county. There is no cost to the county, the agencies or callers for the new routing system.

Cranmer emphasized that the new routing is not the same as the full-blown 911 system the county wants to develop.




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