Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 1, 2013

Townships and towns left out of dispatch talks

City proposes funding mechanism that includes all taxing agencies.

At least one local official calls the city of Kokomo’s proposal to change how emergency service dispatch is funded “voodoo arithmetic.”

Several local elected officials outside of Kokomo and Howard County government contacted by the Tribune said they were unaware of the proposal that would have them pay a share of dispatch center costs.

Kokomo officials presented the idea to Howard County elected officials on April 22. The recommendation included funding from the 11 townships, Greentown and Russiaville for the operation of the combined dispatch centers.

The city proposes that population, not number of calls, be the basis for cost-sharing. Under its model, residents of cities are counted in city, county and township population totals.

The Kokomo Common Council voted Monday to terminate the existing interlocal agreement with Howard County with the hope a new funding agreement can be negotiated before the end of the year.

“I learned about the proposal in the newspaper on Sunday,” Center Township Trustee Jean Lushin said. The city’s proposal would have the township provide 20 percent of the dispatch center funding. “I haven’t seen a proposal,” he said. “I’m not sure the townships are obligated to provide funding.”

Lushin said when the original agreement was signed, Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight agreed to share the costs based on the number of calls, and with the recent annexation, the city’s share will increase while the county’s costs will decline.

He called the proposal by which Kokomo residents are counted three times as city, Center Township and Howard County residents “voodoo arithmetic” that wouldn’t fly.

“I serve on the PSAP (Public Safety Access Point) state committee,” Lushin said. “I’ve thought about where the townships would fit. The townships should be an equal partner. At least let us know what was being proposed.”

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