911 Tax a Top Priority for Joint Comm Board

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia/Boone County Public Safety Joint Communications Board of Directors discussed funding Wednesday for an ad campaign in support of a tax proposal. The proposed tax would pay for PSJC to combine new records management, fire, emergency medical, jail, and computer-aided dispatch systems.

The board met with consultant Heather Grote, who has worked on passing tax increases before. Last year she helped pass a sales tax to fund public services in Greene County. She said informing the community about why the tax is needed is the most important part of getting it passed, and advised the group to look into fundraising for a public information campaign.

City Manager Mike Matthes said, while there is still a lot of work to be done on the proposal, it is one of the board's top priorities. "Well we feel a sense of urgency about it: answering the phones for 911 is one of the most important services we do."

Matthes said the board needs to upgrade the system to keep up with the community's growth. The board still hasn't decided on what kind of tax it will propose, but scheduled a meeting for September to choose one.

The board said it has seen an increase in call wait complaints as well as response time complaints, getting as many as two to three a week. The board said in most of those instances the problem is many people calling to report the same accident, although there is a concern that calls for other incidents happening at the same time would have to wait.