Clark County residents mixed on fee to pay for new $4M 9-1-1 center

The Clark County Dispatch Center. Bill Lackey/Staff

Combined ShapeCaption
The Clark County Dispatch Center. Bill Lackey/Staff

Clark County residents had a mixed reaction to a proposal to add a $60 annual fee to property tax bills to pay for a new combined emergency dispatch center, citing concerns with costs but also believing it could save lives.

The city of Springfield and Clark County have debated combining their separate dispatch centers for more than decade, with cost often one of the stumbling blocks. But local leaders have said one 9-1-1 center could mean faster response times as calls wouldn’t have to be transferred between dispatchers.

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Currently 9-1-1 calls go to different dispatchers based on where callers are located and what type of phone they’re using, which can lead to delays in response times as calls are transferred between the city and county.

The new dispatch center could cost up to $4 million, including renovations, security and new equipment, Clark County Commissioner Richard Lohnes has said.

So Clark County commissioners are considering applying a flat fee to every parcel, which they can approve without going on the ballot under state law, he said.

Leaders decided against a property tax levy, Lohnes said, because other counties have had that type of funding initially approved by voters but then rejected when it came up for renewal.

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Logistics and the amount of the assessment is still to be determined, Lohnes said, but might be in the range of about $60 annually or about $5 per month.

One new Springfield resident, Anthony Kapek, is on the fence about the proposed plan.

“Inflation is going up. The price of everything is going up, paychecks aren’t going up,” Kapek said. “But I do agree if it does save lives quicker and faster, then that’s a good thing.”

Ron Kilgore, another Springfield resident, has arthritis and heart problems. He’s used the county’s emergency services.

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“I call them on occasion when something is going on far as my medical issues or whatever,” Kilgore said.

The current system is good, Kilgore said, and the response times have been good when he’s used it. He would like to have a say in the proposed fee to pay for a new dispatch center.

“We should be able to vote on the 9-1-1 situation, not them voting for us,” Kilgore said.

County commissioners also will hold public meetings later this month to discuss the proposed assessment.

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