Commissioners: 911 funding stream top concern at state conference

mmorgan@centredaily.comMarch 25, 2014 

With the law that funds county 911 operations set to expire in June, keeping those state dollars in place was a major issue at the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania spring conference.

The CCAP conference, held three times per year, is a chance for county commissioners around the state to come together to speak on issues and reflect on shared priorities.

The three-day gathering concluded Tuesday in Harrisburg.

Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said state wireless communication surcharges continue to be an important provider for emergency systems.

“We need to make sure that we’re funding 911,” he said. “That’s a core function of county government.”

Monthly charges of $1 to $1.50 on landlines and $1 monthly cellphone charges support emergency communication, but Commissioner Chris Exarchos said that funding is shrinking with fewer households using landlines.

A roundtable discussion Tuesday included commissioners from across the state and officials such as Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director Glenn Cannon. Pipe said the session will take concerns from officials at the county level to the General Assembly.

Pipe said he will be talking with local legislators in coming weeks about the need for 911 funding.

The commissioners also attended breakout sessions and had productive informal conversations, they said, with representatives from other counties.

Pipe sits on three committees — Community and Economic Development, Elections Reform and the Natural Gas Task Force.

Of all the elections suggestions, Pipe said about 25 percent related to improving the voter experience on election day. He said Centre County should consider changes before the general election in November.

Exarchos attended a session on cybersecurity, which he said becomes increasingly important as all county records are kept on computers.

He also had informal talks with other counties about jumping onto the switchboard of the new 911 system and to serve as backups if a major emergency would take place.

Centre County is part of an initiative looking into the feasibility of counties in each region working together on shared 911 systems.

Matt Morgan can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @MetroMattMorgan.

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