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COLUMBIANA CO. Inaction imperils funding for 911



Published: Fri, September 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Nearly $400,000 is at risk if action isn't taken, an official says.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Time is running out for Columbiana County to use money from a state settlement to help fund creation of a 911 emergency system, Commissioner Dave Cranmer said.

Cranmer, a key planner of the local system, said Thursday that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has told him the county needs to act on creating 911, though no deadline was set.

If it fails to do so, the county could lose its nearly $400,000 share of a settlement Ameritech made with the PUCO over a service dispute, Cranmer said.

The settlement includes payments to some counties, including Columbiana County.

Buying equipment

Those planning the county's 911 system have counted on using the money to buy 911 equipment.

"They just want us to expedite the process," Cranmer said, referring to the PUCO. "They want it done if we're going to do it."

With that in mind, Cranmer said he's hopeful that plans for a 911 system, which officials have talked about for years, can be finalized in the next several months.

Still to be determined is where a 911 answering center would be located and which communities in the county would have 911 answering points staffed by dispatchers.

Cranmer added that he wants a ballot measure put before voters in the May primary asking them to approve a 50-cent monthly surcharge on residential and commercial phone lines.

If approved, the surcharge would raise about $300,000 annually, which would fund 911 operations.

Columbiana County is one of the few counties in the state in which most of its residents are without 911.




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