Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Voters accept 911 tax

The system has become what it was designed for, a way for the elected and so called civil servants to scare enough people designed to get in our wallets and pocketbooks. The problem stems from EVERY call now to police or fire MUST go through this clearinghouse of information emergency or not.

Wake up Springfieldians your being taxed into oblivian. Sam Hampton you give me hope that there are more then just 10 common sense people living in this area.

20 to 24 more employees will be added to call center.

Wes Johnson

Greene County voters resoundingly approved a 1/8-cent sales tax to expand the 911 emergency call center Tuesday.

With 100 percent of the county's 84 precincts reporting, voters approved the sales tax increase 71 percent to 29 percent.

The new tax will add 20 to 24 more employees to the 60-employee emergency call center staff, will help pay for new equipment, a building expansion and current operating expenses. The 10 percent charge on land-line telephones goes away.

"I voted for it," said Dana Gary, after casting her ballot at the Greene County Courthouse. "Usually any chance I get to vote against a tax increase I do. But not this one. It could affect you or your family."

Tonya Pike said one of her good friends was a 911 dispatcher for 10 years, so she knows there's a need for more help at the 911 call center.

"Springfield is becoming a metropolis," Pike said. "We expect our police to work miracles, but we don't give them the tools to do it. They need to have the equipment and people to do it. I wouldn't vote for every tax increase, but I'll vote for this one."

Sam Hampton said he voted against the 911 tax "because it just seems government wants to get bigger and bigger."

Mark Steele and his wife, Christie, both voted in favor of the tax at Cherokee Middle School. Mark said it was a fair way to raise revenue.

"911 is pretty important," he said. "I had to call recently," he said, recalling a recent emergency when he was unable to stop bleeding.

"Thankfully, I was not put on hold, they were very helpful," said Christie.

Springfield resident Scott Foley also supported giving the 911 Call Center more resources.

"It's something very important for all of us and for public safety," he said. "You want someone to answer when you call 911. When you call 911, it's for a reason."

Presiding Greene County Commissioner Dave Coonrod was "elated" but not surprised by the tax increase's passage.

"This was desperately needed," Coonrod said. "We appreciate the fact that voters decided to fully fund the 911 center. When you think about it, there was no opposition whatsoever — no letters to the editor, no campaigns against it."

Coonrod said it will be about four months before the county begins to see new revenue from the 1/8-cent sales tax, which is expected to yield about $6 million a year. The 911 center will begin interviewing new job candidates in the fall and hiring could begin by the end of the year.

"The sooner the better," Coonrod said.

Becky Jungmann, director of the 911 center, said the center has enough phone lines at the moment but needs more people to answer them 24 hours a day as Greene County's population continues to grow.

Jungmann said the 911 call center's goal is to answer 90 percent of its calls within 10 seconds. At the moment, the 911 center answers 89 percent of its calls within 10 seconds. With more people available, she hopes to improve that number.

"In an emergency, five rings is a long time. Ten rings is an eternity."

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