The county commission’s decision not to fund the proposed regional E911 system through county ad valorem taxes seems to have sounded the death knell for the idea.
Two out of 31 cities — Coral Springs and Plantation — have their own dispatch centers and have decided to stay away from the proposed new system. The county wants cities to set up municipal service taxing units (MSTUs) and tax themselves so that they can pay for 40 percent of the cost for the proposed $43 million system, but at least three of the remaining 29 cities — Parkland, Cooper City and Sunrise — have decided they are not doing it.
North Lauderdale, Margate, Deerfield Beach and Coconut Creek discussed the issue at city commission meetings and decided to act on it later. Many cities have decided to wait and watch, hoping that the reluctance on the part of local bodies to create MSTUs would force the county commission to revisit the idea of funding the system through ad valorem taxes
In Parkland, officials unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming the city’s support for a county-wide system that is funded fully by county ad valorem taxes. The ordinance creating an MSTU was voted down 4-1, with Commissioner Mark Weissman the only official voting in favor.
Parkland’s contract with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, which expires next year, includes dispatch, Mayor Udine said. “We are paying for it already. Dispatch should be a county-wide function with a dedicated funding source through the county. I want our residents to pay only once.”
Vice Mayor Dave Rosenof expressed disappointment at the county voting against funding the proposed system with ad valorem taxes. “A regional system would have fixed some of the problems we have with closest unit response. In 2002, we all agreed that this was the way to go. I see no reason for us to vote for it.”
Weissman’s vote in favor of creating an MSTU wasn’t because he liked the idea. “We need to monitor what is going on at the county level. Nobody really knows what the county commission is going to do. Let us vote for it on first reading and then not put it on the agenda for future meetings.”
Officials in Lauderhill and a few other cities are expected to discuss the issue during their second meeting of the month. Cities have until May 10 to decide whether to create an MSTU and sign a taxing agreement with the county.
The proposed regional system, if it becomes a reality, is expected to decrease emergency response times and weed out the current problem of misdirected 911 cell phone calls. There are currently 10 dispatch centers in the county; the proposal is to consolidate the system and to have just three centers.