ELK POINT, S.D. (KTIV)- Close the Union County, South Dakota, Communications Center, or raise taxes to generate the funds to keep it open. Those are the choices voters have at the ballot box, next week.
The Union County 911 Communication Center employs 8 people full time, and dispatches police, fire, and emergency medical services throughout the county. But on Tuesday, June 3, that could change.
"If the vote goes no, then they're either going to have to figure out a way to fund it, or farm us out to another county," Communications 911 Director Judy Oberg said.
The main reason the center is in jeopardy? Funding. "We have a deficit of about $265,000," Oberg said. A vote by the people of Union County will decide the fate of the communication center. If the majority votes in favor of a tax opt-out to fund the center, property taxes will increase by $16.50 per $100,000 of property value. If the majority votes "no," the county will take bids from other counties to have their dispatch contracted through one of the surrounding call centers. Not everyone thinks that will help the county financially in the long run. "The first year, you might save some money, but when you have no control later on, the prices could go up a lot higher and not justify the loss of all the dispatchers," Kevin Vonhaden, Elk Point, SD said.
Even though these jobs hang in the balance with next week's vote, communications director Judy Oberg says she's excited the people of Union County will have the final say. "I am glad it's going to the people, and the people will have to vote. I mean, it's up to them whether they want their 911 dispatch center to stay local or not. And whatever they decide, we'll accept."
The issue will be on the ballot Tuesday, June 3rd, as a part of the South Dakota primary election.
Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Kathy Clayton at (712) 239-4100 x209. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.