KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch Authority released findings Thursday that paint an interesting picture as to why a vote to fund the program failed earlier this year.
People who were surveyed said they would rather pay more in property taxes than a higher 911 user fee to pay for consolidated dispatch.
“I think we would focus on making sure we do some additional research if we wind up going back to the voters in the future,” said Jeff Troyer, executive director of the Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch Authority.
The Authority hired an outside firm to survey Kalamazoo County voters, who in May overwhelmingly rejected an increase to the 911 surcharge to pay for the consolidated dispatch program. That proposal would have increased the surcharge from 42 cents per line to $2.30 per line.
The survey found the cost of the surcharge, a 450 percent increase, was clearly the reason the proposal failed. The research also found the best way to have voters approve funding would not be through a surcharge at all, but rather through a millage.
“There’s a lot more counties throughout the state of Michigan and throughout the country that fund their operation on 911 surcharge than they do millage,” Troyer noted.
The issue of consolidated dispatch in Kalamazoo County was pushed into the spotlight after the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report in April that said better communication among dispatchers may have prevented the June 2016 bicycle crash that left five people dead. The NTSB urged “expediting” creation of consolidated dispatch.
Troyer said a group is currently working on alternative funding options.
“They’re evaluating several different options,” he said. “We are keeping it a little bit close because there’s a lot of negotiations that have to go on there.”