By LISA M. HOFFMANN
IRON MOUNTAIN - Dickinson County residents will vote Tuesday on whether or not to approve an E-911 millage proposal for the purpose of operating and equipping an enhanced 9-1-1 system.
Lisa M. Hoffmann/The Daily News Photo
Amy Zeeb, dispatcher for the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office, answers a call. An E-911 millage proposal for operating and equipping the system is on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Pete Schlitt, emergency management coordinator for Dickinson County, said dispatchers take about 600 to 800 911 calls a month plus, many other calls for service.
"They do 1,000 tasks a day. The console controls all operations, and it's 21 years old," Schlitt said.
Two dispatchers are on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.
They dispatch all police, fire and EMS calls for service. Other duties include calling out road and public works departments, social services calls, the health department, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and set up calls for Airlifeline.
"One call can generate one hour's worth of work," Schlitt said.
With the proposed millage, the county is looking to upgrade the system that has an electronic life 10 to 12 years past its operating life.
The current system was purchased by the county in 1991.
The cost to replace the console equipment, which is more than 20 years old and six years beyond its design life, has been estimated at $360,000. A millage of levy of 0.4 mills would generate an estimated $375,000 in its first year.
The proposal asks for 0.4 mills for three years.
The E-911 budget currently requires $300,000 annually from the county general fund, in addition to $288,000 generated from surcharges on telephone lines and cellular phones.
"A three-year millage will generate enough to help operations and buy equipment at four-tenths of a mill," Schlitt said.
For taxpayers, a house valued at $150,000 will pay $30 a year for the millage if it passed. Or an $80,000 home with an equalized value of $40,000 the levy will amount to $16 annually.
Schlitt said the E-911 millage will not only benefit residents but those who own property, but don't live in the county.
If the millage passes, the county will work toward installing the new system in January. Installation could take up to five days, and 911 service would not be affected as the new consoles would be installed in conjunction with the operation of the current system.
"If we don't get consoles replaced and the computer chips fail, we will lose radio communication with police, fire and EMS," Schlitt said.
The county is worried about the system failing.
If the system did fail, Schlitt said they would not be able to dispatch ambulance, page fire departments or call law enforcement officers.
With any emergency, county officials like to have someone on scene as quickly as possible.
"This will support that," he said.
Dickinson County E-911 Millage proposal reads, "Shall the voters of Dickinson County be assessed .40 mill (40 cents per $1,000 of taxable value) over and above the rate of taxation now in effect, to be levied for a period of three years, 2012 to 2014 inclusive, for the purpose of operating and equipping an Enhanced 911 system in Dickinson County and for no other purpose? The estimated amount of revenue that will be collected if approved and levied in the first calendar year is approximately $375,000."
In Michigan, 24 counties have extra voted millages for central dispatch services, including Delta (0.5 mills) and Marquette (0.4862 mills).
Dickinson's 9-1-1 center provides dispatch services for six law enforcement agencies, nine fire departments, four emergency medical services and two public works/road commissions.
Dickinson County is also the 9-1-1 backup for Iron County and the communications backup for Florence County.
All ballots for all precincts can be viewed at dickinsoncountymi.gov.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.