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Counties, Cities Question Who Is Responsible For 911 Calls

Calls to 911 would cost more if a bill in the General Assembly is passed. 911 call fees are used in part for emergency services.

Legislators are trying to decide who is responsible for funding 911 dispatch services after the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill that changed the existing pay structure. The findings of a summer study committee could make the difference in whether the city or the county pays for the dispatches.

The bill which passed this session established a summer study committee to outline the roles and responsibilities of the state, counties, and cities in regards to 911 dispatch calls. Traditionally Hoosiers are charged a set amount for each 911 call and that money goes to the counties, even if city police respond to the incident.

Speaking on WFIU’s Ask the Mayor, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight says counties don’t always distribute the money evenly and that forces city police to pay for the services using other sources like city property taxes.

“Different cities receive distribution at various levels,” he says. “If you look around the state, it is a hodgepodge of communities where cities may be providing dispatch services. In some places its counties taking care of the entire county including all the cities.”

The Kokomo Police and Howard County Sheriff Departments set up a joint dispatch center a year and a half ago. Goodnight says the contract for that agreement will be renegotiated this year and the report from the study committee could give him guidance on how the responsibilities and funding should be split.

“I think the question needed to be answered on whose responsible, and if the county government is receiving the funds, then obviously my belief is they should have to provide the service,” Goodnight says.

Under the law, the study committee must report its findings no later than November 1.

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