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911 review board fails to decide on spending



Published: Thu, July 12, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

The Niles police chief said public safety is ‘now at stake.’

WARREN — Members of the Trumbull County 911 Review Board demonstrated that they have made very little progress in deciding how $450,000 in wireless 911 money should be spent.

Wednesday was their first meeting following a four-month discussion among police chiefs, fire chiefs and dispatching managers.

The closest thing to a consensus reached among the parties was that another meeting should be held — to allow officials to ask the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to interpret the state law that governs the use of the money.

The meeting is tentatively set for Aug. 15 at noon.

A subcommittee of the 911 review board met once per week for four months to try to iron out differences. At the end of the four months, the two sides issued separate reports, which they gave to the 911 Review Board on Wednesday.

Two sides of debate

Niles Police Chief Bruce Simeone spoke for one side of the debate during the session in the county commissioners’ meeting room. He represents agencies such as police departments in Warren, Niles (which dispatches for Weathersfield Township and McDonald), Newton Falls, Girard and Liberty. These do their own call taking and emergency dispatching.

Other areas that do their own dispatching are Hubbard City and Lordstown (which dispatches for Warren Township).

Trumbull County 911 director Mike Dolhancryk is the spokesman for the other side, which includes officials from Cortland, Howland and most of the smaller townships and villages, which get their 911 dispatching from the county 911 center.

The state passed a law in 2005 that charges cell phone users 32 cents per month and holds the money for counties to use to upgrade their wireless 911 phone systems.

Agreeing on its use

Before each county can get the money, a board representing police and fire departments from around the county must agree on how it will be used.

Simeone said Wednesday that time is running out to get the money because the county decided to no longer pay for upgrades to the dispatching equipment used by the independent dispatching centers as of June 30.

“The safety of the community is now at stake,” Simeone said, urging officials to meet every day or two times per day if necessary to work out an agreement so that the maintenance money can be restored to departments like his.

The primary dispute involves whether to allow the independent dispatching centers to share in the money to upgrade their dispatching equipment.

Dolhancryk said there is time to talk the issue out because the deadline for receiving the money is the end of 2008.

runyan@vindy.com


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