SALEM Council OKs city hall as 911 center
The 911 surcharge will be added to telephone bills in April.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
SALEM -- In about two years, the countywide 911 emergency call system will be operational, with answering points at the Columbiana County Sheriff's Department and Salem City Hall.
On Tuesday, city council approved locating a countywide 911 answering point in city hall.
Councilwoman Mary Lou Popa said that although the 911 system won't be online for about two years, the surcharge voters approved in November 2002 will begin showing up on phone bills in April.
In November 2002, Columbiana County voters approved a 50-cent surcharge on telephone bills to help fund the 911 system.
The surcharge will generate about $270,000 annually to help pay for the system. The county will also pay for the system with $400,000 it received as the result of a dispute between the state and Ameritech.
Salem City Council has been discussing locating an answering point in Salem ever since voters approved the ballot request. The council has delayed making a decision because council members wanted information about the costs involved.
More information wanted
Popa said she wants more information about the process of converting the city's police and fire dispatching center into a 911 call center, and the cost of installing and maintaining the system.
She said she has heard that the surcharge will actually be about 65 cents, for example.
She said in talks with Mahoning County 911 officials, she learned that assistance of computer information systems personnel doesn't end after the system is installed; technicians would be needed full time.
Popa said, however, that although she still has questions about the process, she said Salem should be an answering point because Salem residents were among voters countywide who want a 911 system for the county.
The new system will feature equipment that will allow emergency dispatchers to instantly detect the address from which a 911 call is being placed as well as other vital details.
Salem's dispatching center already answers emergency calls for the city and Perry Township.