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Commissioners Talk 911 Sales Tax

With less than a month to go before the elections, Boone County leaders are trying to sell a new 911 center to voters.ABC 17 News has been following the struggles to fund a new facility. In January, the county commission approved the new three-eighth cent sales tax for the April ballot. Officials say that money would go towards a new 21,000 square foot facility behind the sheriff’s department, along with upgraded equipment and more personnel.Boone county commissioner Dan Atwill tells us the biggest need is personnel right now. They say the recent snow storms were almost a perfect example of why more workers and upgrades are badly needed.Atwill tells us on a normal day the 911 center usually takes almost one thousand phone calls. For just one accident or fire, they get 70 to 100 calls. It held true during the snow storms too. Atwill believes they were lucky there were no major accidents or fire that needed increased first responder attention.”They would have been overworked completely, I think they had a real workout, but I haven’t heard any complaints about that particular event, it’s just an ongoing endemic thing,” Atwill explains.Atwill said they want to add another four lines to 911, but that means they have to add about 20 more employees. He says the problem is there is no more room to expand and it would also double the operation cost. That’s where the sales tax comes into play. Atwill tells us the tax is expected to generate about $9-million that would go towards all the upgrades and yearly costs.Atwill says they aren’t putting an end date on the tax because they aren’t sure how much operation costs are going to increase down the road.”Almost everyone understands the need for effective 911 service, you want someone to answer the phone when you call 911. That’s the issue, will someone answer or put you on hold,” Atwill says.Right now they really don’t have any backup plans if the tax is not passed. They say if that were the case, they’re going to try and find ways to keep all the employees and do more with what is there now.

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