Central Dispatch seeks millage
CENTREVILLE — St. Joseph County E-911 Central Dispatch has requested from St. Joseph County commissioners that they be allowed to put on the May ballot a 0.35-0.40 mill, seven-year request for a special communication millage.
The presentation was made during the Wednesday, Jan. 11 executive committee meeting. Commissioners at their meeting this coming Tuesday need to vote on whether or not the question will be on the ballot. However, commission chair Al Balog made it clear to the new commissioners that their putting it on the ballot doesn’t indicate whether they are in favor of or against it, just that they are in favor of the voters having a say.
The millage, estimated to raise between $659,464 and $753,674 per year, would allow Central Dispatch to:
•Install a new radio tower on the St. Joseph County Conservation and Sportsman’s Club property on Featherstone Road
•Replace all communication equipment at Central Dispatch to operate on the 800 MHz system while still maintaining the current radio system as back-up communications
•Replace all mobile radios in all police and fire units, to include the Sheriff’s Department marine patrol boats
•Supply a portable radio to every sworn police officer and fire department roster personnel
•Install emergency radio in all 36 school buildings within St. Joseph County
Central Dispatch director Dennis Brandenburg, who made the request, said that the county had been operating on essentially the same system since the mid-1960s; there had been minor upgrades since that time. There were some upgrades in 1992 when Central Dispatch was formed. In the early 1990s the state of Michigan began to deploy the 800 MHz system across the state, which was much more versatile and covered a much broader area. During 9/11, there were extensive problems with communications; after that time, the FCC recommended full interoperability between all police, fire and EMS services to prevent communication disasters after a major disaster. St. Joseph County completed its first major upgrade in 2006.
See Thursday's Commercial-News print or e-edition for the full article.