County Council considering new ways to fund 911 call center

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Staff Writer 

The City of South Bend, Mishawaka and County officials held a meeting Tuesday, September 10 to discuss and vote on the newly proposed resolution R7-19. County officials motioned to table the proposal due to receiving additional financial information from a financial consultant.

“In my experience, once something is tabled it is harder to take it off the table,” said Fred Ryhnhart, a patron of the St. Joseph County Public Library. “They were advised by a financial consultant, which means they might be trying to find another way to fund it.”

Many library supporters expressed that the motion was a positive step forward.

If the resolution were to be passed, it would change the way resident’s income tax money is distributed. As of now, the money is being used to fund St. Joseph County Public Libraries, Transpo, six townships and other local facilities.

The redistributed money would go to fund the 911 call center. The center is currently being funded by South Bend, Mishawaka and St, Joseph County, their agreement is set to expire in 2020. The cost of the call center would be $8 million.

The funding would pull from county libraries, Transpo, townships and the South Bend International airport. The center would benefit the entire community but would result in other local installations without funding. Many agree that the call center is needed but others argue that the libraries are also vital to the livelihood of our communities.

St. Joseph County Public Libraries would lose up to almost half a million dollars in revenue. The loss of revenue would result in one of the libraries branches closing, thousands of people without access to a library, citizens seeking jobs and the loss of a safe place for children.

Local libraries are not the only services that would suffer from the loss of funding. Another big service taking a hit would be Transpo, losing around $140 thousand in funding in the upcoming year.

A local bus stop where many members of the community meet to commute. Photo by//EMILY TRENT

Transpo is a service that connects the community to many different avenues of life. School being one, many IUSB students rely on Transpo to get them to and from school and work. If the resolution is passed some of their routes could be cut and some might see a price spike in ride fares in the upcoming year leaving some students without a way to get around.

Chelsea Parratore, a frequent rider of the local service and IU South Bend student who relies on Transpo, voiced her concerns regarding the proposal.

“Yeah, I’m worried about all the students that rely on public transportation to get to school or work in the area,” Parratore said, continuing to voice her concerns about her own transportation to and from work. “I take the bus to work which is right behind IUSB, and I used to take the bus to school every day. I also know a few people who use the free busing to come to work at the campus.”

The St. Joseph County Libraries along with the other local organizations are hoping that a positive decision will be passed soon. As of now, county officials are looking into different approaches on how to fund the center.

County-City Building where county officials held their meeting Tuesday night. Photo by//EMILY TRENT

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