Sales tax initiative could help struggling 911 service

Mar 12, 2013

Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey said a shortage of staff, old equipment and inefficient buildings could all be improved at the county’s 911 Dispatch Center, if voters approve a sales tax on the April 2nd ballot.

Sherriff Carey spoke at a public forum last night hosted by the organization Keep Columbia Safe.

Carey said county Joint Communications, which operates the county’s 911 dispatch services, is struggling to process emergency calls quickly.

“I can wait for the direct TV people to come on to hear about my cable being out," Carey said. "But I can’t wait for a 911 operator if I have an emergency or somebody in my family has an emergency."

The six members of the Keep Columbia Safe voted unanimously to endorse the 911 tax initiative after hearing Carey’s presentation. Karen Taylor said she and her colleagues understand the urgency of the issue.

“Waiting three minutes when we call 911 is just not acceptable, having to purchase equipment through eBay to able to support the current system is not acceptable," Taylor said. "And so we just need to bite the bullet and support the tax."

Sheriff Carey says he and members of a commission on this issue have been giving speeches and talks around town recently, and they started door-to-door visits to neighborhoods last Saturday.

Carey says if the ballot passes, a $20 million bond would be issued immediately, to be financed with the proposed sales tax revenue over a 20-year period.