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Taylor Co. 911 asking for help

by Gail Marsh

STAFF WRITER

The Taylor County Emergency Services 911 Center continues to operate, but board members are looking to the county, the city of Grafton and other sources to get enough money to help the center get on solid financial footing, according to officials.

"Everyone wants to see the 911 service survive, and that will take some additional funding," said Stuart Cayer, chair of the 911 Center Board. "We're just trying to bring everyone to the table in order to access our needs and to secure the money we need to keep the agency operational."

The 911 Center, which began operating in November 1998, experienced a financial shortfall last year, and half of the center's 10 employees were laid off in August. Cayer said the agency is in better financial shape today, but is still experiencing cash- flow problems.

"Obviously there's been a lack of foresight and planning when it comes to the overall finances of the center, and that's what we're going to deal with now," Cayer said.

Cayer said he has approached both Grafton City Council and the Taylor County Commission for more funding, but said both agencies are taking a "wait and see" attitude before promising any more support.

The city of Grafton gave an initial $30,000 to the 911 center to help bring it online, but has not given any more funding since then.

Taylor County gave more than $20,000 to get the center off the ground, and in June began paying the center's mortgage payment.

Additional support comes from the county's 911 telephone fee of $1.50 per customer. The center gets a check for $8,000 each month from Bell Atlantic for the 911 fee.

"This is a service that everyone wants, and the county and the city are willing to help support it," said Bob Weaver, president of the Taylor County Commission. "But we want a better idea of what to expect in the future before committing more money to the center's budget."

Cayer said one way the center hopes to reduce its overhead is to refinance the mortgage for the building and equipment. The board also plans to apply for state grant money to help meet the center's bills.

"Right now we're in the process of bringing all the parties together and talking about issues and seeing where things stand. The city, the county and the people all want this center, so we're going to do what it takes to make it happen," Cayer said.

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