After a decade of feasibility studies, reports and recommendations, the Broward County Commission’s Implementation Board recommended that funding for a Regional E911 system must be stable, secure from the political and financial instability of 31 different municipalities; and, therefore, must be through regional countywide ad valorem. Municipalities representing 87 percent of the population in Broward County agreed.
We fund regional libraries and regional parks through countywide ad valorem. Then again, no one ever died from a delay in finding a book on a shelf or a line too long into a regional park.
Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief and Commissioners Lois Wexler, Martin Kiar and Dale Holness should be applauded for voting Yes to fund this like a true regional service. But, the plan failed Tuesday because we needed one more vote.
The result will be thousands of delayed E911 calls and tens of millions of dollars wasted annually on too many dispatch centers.
Everyone knows about the delays and dangers from misdirected E911 calls, where cellphone calls are routed to dispatch centers that cannot send help immediately. This happens many times, every day, in Broward County.
Also, it turns out that county commissioners have been giving the Broward Sheriff’s Office $19 million to supplement the cost of dispatch for some contract cities. For some residents, that is their tax money diverted by the commissioners to supplement BSO contracts.
To achieve this public-safety improvement and projected savings of $100 million over the next decade by regionalization would result in a potential increase of .2 mills on the county bill. In exchange, the county and taxpayers improve public safety, save real dollars on operational costs and future upgrades, and avoid the significant costs to build centers already built by cities.
The county now wants cities that aren’t paying for communications separately to agree to a Municipal Services Taxing Unit plan. Other residents will demand a refund from the county for subsidizing BSO contracts.
Sadly, had the county followed the recommendations from as long as a decade ago, we would have already saved minutes on tens of thousands of 911 calls and tens of millions of dollars during the worst of times.
Mike Ryan, mayor, Sunrise