News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 24, 2014

Terre Haute, Vigo County in dispute over 911 bill

Vigo County says $312,552 bill has not been paid; Terre Haute city thinks citizens being taxed twice

TERRE HAUTE — The City of Terre Haute has not paid its share of the combined emergency 911 bill in 2014, according to county and city officials.

Under a 2007 agreement, the city and county governments agreed to combine their then-separate emergency dispatch services into a single 911 system operated by the Vigo County government. In return, the city was to pay the county a minimum of $500,000 per year in two payments – one in January and one in July. That amount was to increase annually in accord with the state’s annual “growth quotient,” which is used to decide how much new money local governments can receive in property taxes.

This year, the city has declined to pay its share of the 911 bill, which is now up to an annual total of $625,104. The January payment, which was to have been $312,552, has still not been made, a county official told the Tribune-Star.

Chou-il Lee, city attorney, said the city’s nonpayment is a result of questions of possible “double taxation” of city residents for the 911 service. An official with the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, in an email Lee provided to the Tribune-Star, stated last year that Kokomo residents were facing double taxation for 911 services.

How is Terre Haute’s situation similar to Kokomo’s, Lee was asked? “We don’t know all the answers, yet,” he answered. But, if the county is paying for 911 services from its “general fund” and the city is also, “it’s double taxation,” he said, adding, “We may have to reach out to the DLGF” for an answer.

A county official said Thursday that Vigo County routinely reduces its annual “levy” – the amount of money it seeks to raise through property taxes – by the same amount as the city’s 911 payment, thereby avoiding “double taxation.”

Michael Wright, attorney for the Vigo County government, also does not believe double taxation is taking place and thinks the city should live up to the agreement it signed in 2007 and allowed to renew in 2012.

“The county does not feel there is any issue with double taxation,” Wright said. “And the county feels they should live up to their end of the bargain and make these payments.”

Rob McMullen, director of Vigo County 911, said he does not know how much longer the center can operate without the city’s payments. The county is covering the costs for now, he said. If things don’t change, dispatchers could lose their jobs and services provided would dip below what citizens need, he said.

“We’re one of the busiest counties around,” McMullen said. Dispatchers are already handling all the calls they can, he said.

In 2013, the dispatch center received more than 101,000 calls for service – about 56 percent of which came from within the city, and that figure does not include the thousands of non-emergency calls the center receives from within the city.

In 2007, when the combined dispatch center was opened, the city was accounting for about 68 percent of 911 calls in the county, according to estimates made public at the time. Under the terms of the current agreement, which remains in effect until January 2017, if either the city or county wants to end the agreement, it must give notice before March 1 of 2016. To avoid the renewal in 2012, the city or county needed to give notice by March 1 of 2011, Wright said.

Centralized dispatch services are becoming the norm around the state because of it’s cheaper to operate one center than two – in part because expensive equipment is required, McMullen said.

Still, “the city can reopen their dispatch center if they don’t want the county to run it any more,” Wright said.

City and county officials are going to meet this week to discuss the matter, Lee said.

“If there’s not an agreement sometime in the near future,” Wright said, “there would be further demand for [the city] to comply with the agreement by whatever means are deemed necessary by the [Vigo County] commissioners.”

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Fish Oil Plant Blast Kills One Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity