How emergency services are dispatched in Kokomo is likely to change starting Jan. 1. An ongoing disagreement between the city and Howard County over which entity should pay for dispatch is coming to a head with Howard County’s decision to split the responsibilities.
Two years ago, the city and county dispatch centers were combined. Operations fell under the supervision of the Howard County Sheriff’s Department and the combined operation had a budget of approximately $1.4 million per year.
Earlier this year, the Kokomo Common Council voted to terminate the agreement with the hope of negotiating a new pact that would reduce the city’s share of the costs.
The city proposed a funding formula that had Greentown, Russiaville and the townships all paying a percentage.
Under the original agreement, which terminates at the end of this year, Kokomo paid 70 percent of the operating costs based on the volume of calls.
Prior to the consolidation, dispatch services cost taxpayers $2.1 million.
Nick Capozzoli, coordinator of the dispatch center, said continuing the consolidated service would cost $1,389,000 in 2014.
A county-only operation is estimated to cost $1,033,000, he said. Separating city and county dispatch services would change staffing from 22 full- and part-time employees to 16 total positions.
A service fee on telephones provides $645,000 to fund dispatch services in the county.
After city officials expressed concerns over “double taxation” of city residents for dispatch services, Howard County officials submitted a letter to Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight with three options to eliminate the double taxation.
The county wanted a response from the city by Thursday.
In option one, the county would have supplied all dispatch services and the city would have transferred its current tax levy to the county.
Option two proposed the city continue to provide funding for dispatch center operations and the county would lower its tax levy to eliminate double taxation of city residents.