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COUNCIL MEETING 09/26/16 (911 System, County Sales Tax)

Commission Talks With City Regarding Sales Tax Proposal for the County
Livingston County Presiding Commissioner Ed Douglas and East District Commissioner Ken Lauhoff presented to Chillicothe City Council members on Monday evening the proposed plan for a county-wide sales tax increase to go to voters in April 2017. The plan for the tax increase is to help manage annual operational expense increases, law enforcement, 911 emergency management, road improvements, facilities improvements and building a county reserve. Livingston County currently has the lowest sales tax rate (0.750 percent) of any of the adjoining counties and a half percent increase would bring Livingston County up to the next lowest rate of 1.250 percent, equal to an estimated $8.75 per household per month, according to figures presented by Douglas. County revenue concerns come from the Daviess/DeKalb Regional Jail raising jailing expenses by 33 percent and almost $36,000 needed for a new 911 system. The city council recently approved the new system, but the county is still responsible for their portion of the investment, which would be $18,340.90 up-front, and $17,635.68 annually for the term of the contract. Due in part to a shortfall in land-line phone revenues, the county is already due to pay an additional $80,000 for current 911 operations. Other funds raised through the tax, if passed, would be used for mutual projects such as county roads that feed into the city, such as Litton Road on the east side of Green Hills Golf Course, and county facilities that have become increasingly expensive to maintain year after year. Commissioner Douglas explained how a contractor recently provided an estimate for new windows at the Livingston County Courthouse. Once the contractor learned that the courthouse was considered 'historical', he noted that such designation could make new windows more expensive than originally quoted. Another concern is the fact that Livingston County has little reserve for unscheduled contingencies. Adjoining Grundy County and Linn County, currently hold operating reserves of more than $2 million dollars each. According to figures provided by the commission, a sales tax increase of a half-percent would yield an estimated $1,063,000 of increased county annual revenues. These revenues could maintain needed investments like the new 911 system and road improvements, Douglas said. Those revenues would also be able to absorb annual operational cost increases for the next seven years, based on estimates of the research. Asked how the community would respond to the increase, Douglas cited that, historically, Livingston County has risen to challenges like this, in the past. County tax raises have only happened three times in the last 34 years, and have been supported by voters, as recently as 2006. "We understand to live in a really good community," says Douglas, "we need to take care of it." To see the significance of day-to-day spending, one can look at Chillicothe, the Livingston County seat. Everyday purchases currently incur a total tax rate of 7.225 percent. If presented and passed in April, those same purchases will incur a 7.725 percent tax rate.

City Moves Ahead on Cloud-Based 911 System
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY

Chillicothe City Council members approved a five-year contract with Solacom for hosting the city's emergency 911 
system. City officials approved revisions to the contract during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The new system will be a cloud-based hosted system through which the equipment is "in the cloud." This means that the 911 data and programs will be stored and accessed over the internet rather than through a computer hard drive at the 
police station. Chillicothe's 911 center, based at the police station, currently has a premise based system. The cloud-based system provides increased safety and greater security and will be less likely to experience equipment malfunction, according to company representative Morey Sullivan. Through the contract, the company will maintain the system, and there does not need to be any on-site expertise of internet technology equipment. Installation of the new system could take place within the next few weeks. In making this switch to a cloud-based system, the new 911 system will provide callers with the options of sending video and texts. This capability could provide greater access in reaching the police as well as enhance emergency response, Sullivan said. Videos can provide additional information about the nature of the call before police arrive. The contract with the city calls for a one-time charge of $49,570, and a monthly charge of $3,972 (of a total for 60 months of $238,335).

911 System, Sidewalk Grant, County Finances on City Agenda
Chillicothe City Council members will meet in regular session at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Monday) in the council chambers at City Hall. Agenda items include discussion regarding the new proposed 911 system contract, a CMU bid proposal from Turbine Technology, and a proclamation declaring the first week of October as Public Power Week. The council will also discuss a funding change on the sidewalk grant, hospital board appointments, and a proposed sanctioned BBQ contest in Simpson Park. Prior to the regular council meeting, the council will have a workshop meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the conference room at City Hall. During the workshop, the Livingston County Commission is slated to be present to discuss the county's financial needs. Additionally, auditor Bob Conrad will present the 2015-16 audit of the city. Both the regular session and workshop meeting are open to the public. An executive session, closed the public, is scheduled to follow the regular council meeting.

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