Officials hope to merge 911 systems

The county system currently includes 20 townships.
HOWLAND -- Several community leaders are trying to find a way to persuade all Trumbull County townships and cities to join the county's 911 center.
County Commissioner James Tsagaris and Darlene St. George, Howland Township administrator, met Wednesday at the township administration building with several other township and county leaders to discuss ways to persuade other communities to join the 911 center.
"We need to find a way to convince Liberty, Girard, Newton Falls, Warren Township and all the other areas not to have their own 911 centers but to come to ours," Tsagaris said. "The only way we can make sure the center is properly funded is have everyone a part of it."
Officials did not invite members of the communities that are not part of the county 911, including Warren, to the meeting.
"We want to wait until we get this all together and then have them come," Tsagaris said.
Trumbull County 911 dispatches for 20 townships, Cortland, Orangeville and the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department, St. George said.
Tsagaris said officials are working on a package that he hopes would be financially beneficial for all the communities.
Financial woes
The county is in a financial crisis and is having problems balancing the 911 budget. The 911 center in Howland had a $2.1 million budget last year but faced a $614,000 shortfall this year.
Last month, the county was set to layoff 15 dispatchers but all the townships that use 911 agreed to pay their yearly fee in advance to keep the center running.
"We will be able to get through this year but not next year," Tsagaris said. "The sales tax we imposed cannot be used for 911. It can only be used for the sheriff's department. Since we imposed it, in can only be used for the one specific department. If people would have voted on it, then we could have used it differently."
Tsagaris and St. George said they plan to hold another meeting in about two weeks.
"We hope to get more numbers together and start to get more of a proposal together at that meeting," Tsagaris said.

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