County commission approves ballot proposal

St. Joseph County voters will have the chance next year to decide the fate of a millage-increase request sought by E-911 Central Dispatch.

Members of the county commission voted Tuesday to authorize the 0.25-mill increase request to appear on the May 2018 ballot. If approved, the agency would collect 1 mill annually over a seven-year period. It currently collects 0.75 mills thanks to a request that was renewed in 2012 and expires in 2018.

Central dispatch director Dennis Brandenburg said the requested increase would generate an additional $485,000 annually to fund operational-related expenses. Its current millage generates a yearly amount of more than $1.4 million, a figure that reflects the lion’s share of its annual budget, he said.

In a related matter Tuesday, commissioners also approved the implementation of a surcharge on all phones – cell, landline and Voice Over Internet Phones – in the county. The 42-cent surcharge is per phone and will be imposed monthly and start appearing on phone bills next summer.

Brandenburg said St. Joseph County is one of 14 in the state that does not impose a local telephone surcharge to help fund 911 services. He said the fee is expected to generate between $180,000 to $270,000 a year.

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