06/14/11 Marshall County Sheriff Tom Chamberlin had a busy day with presentations on 9-1-1 issues and needs to the County Council in the morning and a discussion of centralized dispatching with the Plymouth City Council in the evening.
Sheriff Chamberlin explained that the 9-1-1 dispatch center has been funded by a $1.53 monthly fee on all landlines in the county since the early 80’s. Currently 70% of the households still have landlines but that number is reducing with more families going to cell phones only. It is estimated that by the end of 2012 only 50% of households in Marshall County will have landlines.
Additional funds are collected on cell phones at $0.50 cents a month and pre-paid cell phones $.25 at purchase only. The cell phone funds are collected by the state and returned to the county using an undisclosed formula.
Chamberlin said the 2010 budget for 9-1-1 was $524,403. Revenue received by the 9-1-1 fee equaled $505.926 causing a shortfall of $18,477. The last time there was a positive balance after expenses was in 2007.
Indiana Code dose allow the county to increase the monthly rate. For a county the size of Marshall the top rate is 10% of the monthly line access charge is approximately $26 or and increase up to $2.60.
The Sheriff then discussed taking on more responsibilities by providing centralized dispatching for all emergency services in the county. Currently they provide services for all but Bremen Fire and Police and Plymouth Police.
Chamberlin said he was looking from direction from the Council as he moves forward. He also said he could provide information on the number of calls and a formula that could be used to the various municipalities.
Council members appeared to be more inclined to seek a formula to charge other agencies over increasing the 9-1-1 surcharge on land lines.
During the City Council meeting the Sheriff presented the idea taking over the police department dispatch at the beginning of next year. He wanted to present the idea prior to the budgeting process for 2012 so the city council could consider the additional software, hardware and technology upgrades that will be necessary to make a successful transition.
The City currently has 3 full-time and 5 part-time dispatchers. Although they would save money in the dispatching payroll it was noted that they would still need someone in the office 24/7. There would also be a substantial outlay of funds to get the transfer completed and then a fee from the county that has not been determined yet.
City Council members had some questions but were not opposed to the idea.