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Fulton County moves toward adding enhanced 911

February 28, 1998|By DON AINES

Fulton County moves toward adding enhanced 911

McCONNELLSBURG, Pa. - Help will be just three digits away in 1999 when Fulton County officials plan to have an enhanced 911 system servicing most of the county.

The system will mean the end of seven-digit dialing for fire and ambulance service, but it will cost telephone customers a $1.50 per month surcharge on each line.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled Tuesday, March 31, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the county courthouse, according to Commissioner Daniel Swain.

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The commissioners Wednesday received cost estimates for the first three years of operation for the system, which will be linked to Cumberland County's 911 system. Technology Management Research of York, Pa., prepared the 911 plan.

The estimate for the first year of service was $142,786, rising to $148,092 in the third year, according to Troy Truax, the county's 911 coordinator. About a third of that, approximately $55,000 a year, will be paid to Cumberland County, he said.

Other recurring costs include the telephone line connecting Fulton County with Cumberland County's 911 center, maintaining the computer data base for street addresses, administration and consulting costs, Truax said.

Fulton County also pays Bedford County for providing basic 911 service to a small portion of the county in the 814 area code.

To pay for 911, the county is proposing a $1.50 surcharge on each of the approximately 7,000 access lines in the county. That would generate about $125,000 a year.

That falls short of estimated dispatch and maintenance costs for the first three years, but Commissioner Gary Decker said Friday the consultant's figures were intentionally high.

"I feel confident we can cover the dispatch and maintenance of the system with the $1.50," Decker said.

The 911 plan has to be approved by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the surcharge must be approved by the state's Public Utility Commission, Swain said recently.

The six-year agreement with Cumberland County was signed in December and takes effect when the system goes on line, which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 1, 1999, Truax said.

County officials met with fire and ambulance services on Wednesday to update them on the plan. The McConnellsburg, Needmore and Hustontown volunteer fire companies all provide fire and ambulance service. There is also C&M Transport Inc., an advanced life support service in Hustontown.

Truax said 911 will not dispatch police in the county. He said state police does its own dispatching and handles dispatching for McConnellsburg's police department after office hours.

The enhanced system requires street addresses for all county residents.

"The townships have approved road names and the county is in the process of posting road names," Swain said.

Change of address notifications to residents will start being sent out on April 1, according to Truax.

Although emergency service providers have wanted 911 for years, Decker said "it was just too costly to get into." He said, however, the delay worked to the county's advantage because the technology has improved so much.

"We're one of the last to come on line," he said.

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