Dear Editor and community members,
On behalf of Fremont Area Community Foundation, I am writing to express our support of the 911 surcharge proposal appearing on Newaygo County ballots this Election Day. The Community Foundation feels strongly that we must ensure Newaygo County’s Central Dispatch has the updated technology it needs to continue providing all of us with safe, efficient 911 services.
Our local 911 dispatchers provide 24-7 lifesaving operations that all of us rely on. In 2017, local dispatchers placed or received 71,835 calls and dispatched 34,581 incidents. And we ask them to do all of this on a system built in 2002 and running on a Windows 2000 server. Think for a moment of how many times you’ve replaced and updated your own personal technology like computers, laptops, or cell phones in the last 16 years.
The primary source of funding for technology updates—like the ones our dispatchers so desperately need—is the 911 surcharge on land lines and contracted cell phones/devices. In 2003, Newaygo County voters approved a surcharge of up to $3 per month. But even with this support, the surcharge requires approval from the Michigan Public Service Commission. In 2008, they reduced the surcharge, causing revenues to significantly decrease over the last 10 years. Currently, the surcharge is $1.95 per month.
On November 6, Newaygo County voters will be asked to reinstate the $3 surcharge. The total increase would be just $1.05 month—less than four cents per day! Funding will be used exclusively for supporting 911 equipment and services in Newaygo County. Over the next 10 years it will cover the costs of purchasing a main computer system for 911 communications and documentation, a telephone system, dispatch radio consoles, and more lifesaving technology.
The Community Foundation is proud to join the Police and Fire Chiefs Associations in supporting this proposal. As an organization committed to improving the quality of life for everyone in Newaygo County, we feel that it is our responsibility to support the lifesaving work of Newaygo County 911 Central Dispatch.
Carla A. Roberts, President and CEO
Fremont Area Community Foundation
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