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Propose increase in 911 surcharge - public input invited

August 6, 2011
John Speer Central Iowa Press

Tama County has an "ever increasing" number of emergency 911 calls according to Ryan Currens, E911 and Emergency Management coordinator. Since Jan. 1, more than 8,000 E911 calls have been received at the communications center in the Tama County Courthouse in Toledo.

Part of the funding for 911 comes from the current $1 monthly surcharge on land line phones. In addition to surcharge money, the county receives a cut of funds the State of Iowa collects on wireless phone usage to help fund the service.

What concerns Currens is the trend toward a decreasing number of land line phones and Tama County has not had an increase in the $1 monthly surcharge since the beginning of the service in the mid-990s. He wants the monthly surcharge hiked to $2.

Because of the call volume, the county has added two additional part-time disputers to the communications staff, he said.

There is a total of eight full-time dispatchers. Additionally, Julie Vokoun, assistant coordinator, and Currens are also available for dispatch duties at times.

Public input will be heard on the possible increase at the August meeting of the E911 Commission on Aug. 9. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Supervisor's Meeting Room in the Tama County Administration Building, 104 W. State, Toledo.

The commission is made up of representatives of all cities in the county with the board of supervisors representing the rural areas.

Approval in a county-wide referendum to actually raise the surcharge is required.

Emergency 911 calls for ambulance services in Tama, Toledo, Elberon, Traer, Dysart, Garwin and Gladbrook and first responders in Montour, Chelsea and Clutier, for the 12 fire departments, sheriff's office and police in Tama, Toledo and Dysart are channelled through the system.

The surcharge received on telephones for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 for Tama County totaled $99,812 which included just over $20,000 in state revenue sharing.



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