The city-county emergency communications office's move to a new address got a boost Tuesday from Allen County Council – and news that its new phone system will cost far less than expected.
Council approved $950,000 to buy the system and to move the 911 center from the basement of the former City-County Building – now the Rousseau Centre – to the 6th floor. The new digital phone system was expected to cost more than $1 million but will cost about $600,000, center Director Tim Lee told council.
The move is necessary because the center is also upgrading its computer equipment, which will take more room. The 6th floor also contains excess space that could allow the department to expand into a regional communications center later on. Lee said the system cost less than expected because the center coordinates its purchases with other counties.
The $950,000 is from a fund generated by 911 fees paid by telephone customers.
In other business, council approved $1.6 million toward the widening of Bass Road between Hillegas and Scott roads – a project that will cost about $35 million, will begin in 2014 and be completed in stages through 2020. The Bass Road Bridge over Interstate 69 will be widened and various intersections upgraded.
Council also approved changes to county guidelines for tax abatements – now called “tax phase-ins,” designed to coordinate county codes with the city's where possible. Among the changes is a provision that will make it slightly easier for companies to qualify for the maximum 10-year phase-in of taxes on new buildings and equipment.
Beth Lock, governmental affairs director for the County Commissioners, also updated Council on various pieces of legislation pending in the General Assembly. One would give voters the option of replacing the three commissioners with a single county executive, transferring the commissioners' legislative duties to council. The commissioners' support would be needed for a referendum to occur, and a majority appear to support the proposal, Council President Darren Vogt said.
The proposal has failed in previous sessions of the General Assembly.
But if it passes this time, Councilman Roy Buskirk quipped, would council's salary – currently about $15,500 – increase to reflect members' added duties?