The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

May 24, 2014

Ken de la Bastide: County 911 fees subsidizing other Indiana counties

It may prove difficult for Madison County residents to believe, but some of their 911 emergency phone line fees are being used to subsidize Hamilton County.

A local committee is moving forward with plans to upgrade radio communications for all public safety agencies at an estimated cost of $18.5 million.

Lisa Hobbs, president of the Madison County Council, said a funding decision would be made in July.

“My guess is we will have to bond for the funding,” she said.

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Madison County Commissioners, Sheriff's Maj. Brian Bell, chairman of the dispatch center committee, requested funding for the radio system, which is 18 years old.

Commissioner John Richwine said it will have to be a shared cost with other taxing units and the county would seek state funding assistance.

Several years ago the state changed how 911 fees are distributed to counties, making it a standard amount each year. Madison County currently receives $710,412.

“Our money is subsidizing other counties,” Richwine said. “Our fee was increased and Hamilton County’s was decreased. We want to change the law."

The 911 fee for each Madison County cellular and land line is 90 cents per month.

Richwine said the county is not receiving $700,000 per year as a result of the change in state law.

Political shot never fired

Just prior to the May primary election, a copy of a county reimbursement claim found its way to The Herald Bulletin. The claim sought reimbursement from David McCartney, a member of the Madison County Council, for a three-night stay at Belterra Casino in southern Indiana for the Association of Indiana Counties conference.

The room reservation for the conference listed McCartney’s address as in Crawfordsville and was in the amount of $297 for one room for two adults.

At the time, McCartney’s fiancée, Kelly Ewoldt, was the Montgomery County Assessor.

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