Possible solution to funding 911 services

The County Line

Officials in Hamilton County local governments: City, town, township and county, are currently considering how to fairly assess the cost of operating the very important Hamilton County 911 communications system. At the present time county government along with the larger municipalities are paying all the cost. County officials have asked the smaller units of government to start paying their share beginning next year. That’s understandable.

The 911 system of calling for help in case of a fire, crime or a health emergency is of utmost importance to all of our citizens. This is one area where we should spare no expense in having a state-of-the-art system for all areas of the county.

So, here’s a simple idea for a fair method of financing that system. Since all property owners pay for their county government operations why not include in the county budget a line item for 911 communications?

Tell the cities of Noblesville, Carmel, Westfield and Fishers that they no longer have to contribute, but advise them and the rest of the county that we’re all going to pay equally just as we do for county health, courts, parks and everything else of a countywide nature.

Some may argue that a small unit like White River Township should not pay nearly as much as Noblesville, Carmel or Fishers. But, since residents of a small township pay a much smaller share of the total property tax, there would be nothing unfair if everyone paid an equal amount for 911 just as they do for other countywide services.

The one possible problem, a political problem, is that county budget-makers would have to include the full amount for 911 communications in the county budget thus giving the appearance of taxing more. But, the fact is that for the individual taxpayer’s bottom line tax bill there would be no difference whether they pay a countywide rate or whether cities, towns and townships tax for the service and then pay into the county 911 account.

It would seem this simple method would avoid a lot of negotiations and possibly an annual reconsideration of interlocal agreements with each of the dozen county units of local government which provide emergency services.

Is that fair and simple or does it make too much sense?

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