State Rep: Lake County better get its E911 act together, state won’t help
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent September 27, 2012 5:08PM
State Rep. Ed Soliday
Updated: October 29, 2012 6:55AM
Failure to move forward with the state-mandated E911 consolidation is a “no-win strategy” for Lake County, according to state Rep. Ed Soliday.
Soliday, R-Valparaiso, had some frank words Thursday for the E911 Commission regarding the negative consequences of failing to meet the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline for consolidation of the county and community dispatch units.
State legislators are already displeased with Lake County for not taking advantage of tools like the local option and county option income taxes it has created to help generate revenues for local governments.
Failing to consolidate as required would only draw more ire from legislators, he said.
“This is a no-win strategy,” Soliday said.
Local officials can expect little help if a major emergency occurs and can expect to be scrutinized and blamed for any problem that may arise that state officials can say consolidation would have avoided.
Taxpayers will also continue to pay for 911 service through the telephone fee but that money will be diverted to the counties that consolidate.
“If you don’t consolidate, you won’t get any of the telephone money,” Soliday said.
Any hope for a change in the law in the coming legislative session will be futile, he said. “I don’t expect significant changes in the 2013 legislative session,” Soliday said.
One change that will be made is a clarification that the requirement for two centers per county is one fully manned call center and one dark back-up center, not two fully operational centers, he said.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub said it is good the commission knows where it stands regarding the requirements of the consolidation but it is not right the county is being penalized for not initiating a local income tax.
Scheub said if the state wants to make the county create an income tax it should not be called an option and the resistance would go away.
“You take the option out and you do not have a problem. We took an option, that option was not to raise taxes,” Scheub said.
By freezing the county’s levy the state is penalizing officials for opting not to raise taxes.
“That’s what I think is so criminal,” Scheub said.
Soliday said county officials can argue all they want about cost, impact on service and how the 911 telephone fees are distributed, but those arguments will fall on deaf ears. State officials will do little to help Lake County because the county will not take action to help itself with a local tax.
“You had the tools, you didn’t use them,” Soliday said is the sentiment among legislators.