Measure would provide 911 funding if passed Nov. 2
Bowman and Slope Counties have measures on their Nov. 2 ballots that would extend a 50 cent increase to the emergency service communication fee.
If approved, the measure would raise the emergency services communication (911) fee 50 cents per month, per line for the next 6 years, said Lorrie Buzalsky, Slope County auditor.
The revenue will be dedicated to maintaining and operating the emergency services communication system as required by state law, according to the ballots.
"It's a big issue for our counties," said Pine Abrahamson, Bowman County commissioner.
The state Legislature allowed the counties to do a resolution to raise their rates because their 911 funds were going into debt, Buzalsky said.
Slope County couldn't generate enough revenue charging $1 to keep up with the emergency service communication use, so they decided to increase it, Buzalsky said.
"It's a service we need," said Lynn Brackel, Bowman County commissioner.
Brackel said Bowman County followed the same procedure as Slope County.
"We are currently charging $1.50 and have been since June when a county resolution passed in April took effect." Buzalsky said.
Emergency services are needed in the area because of the distance people travel, said Lynell Jacobson, Bowman resident. "If the measure gets turned down in the November election, we will have to go back down to charging $1." Buzalsky said.
If that happens the county would have to make up the difference by transferring money out of its general fund, which, in turn, might mean higher tax levys, Buzalsky said.
"What we pay out locally to maintain the 911 system has faced significant increases since the mid-90s," said Karla Germann, Bowman and Slope County 911 coordinator.
One reason for the increase is "During this last biennium our dispatch fees have jumped from 20 cents to 38 cents per phone line, per month, that's land and cell phone lines," Germann said.
The majority of the money from that fee goes to North Dakota state radio who answers 911 calls that originate in Bowman and Slope Counties, it also goes to the telephone company for maintaining data bases and routing 911 calls, Buzalsky said.
Revenue generated from the fee that appears on phone bills also pays for equipment used to page local emergency responders as well as software and service to maintain E9-1-1 information, Germann said.
E9-1-1 information attaches a location to a phone number when a 911 call comes into the dispatch center, Germann said.
Kidder and Emmons County also have the measure on their ballots, Germann said.
Griggs County passed the measure in June during their primary election, Germann said.