August Editorial Winner

Here we go again

Mike McCormick, The Shawnee News-Star

Here we go again. The county 911 board wants a 50 percent increase in the 911 landline tariff fee.
This same issue failed miserably more than two years ago when voters overwhelmingly rejected the same proposal in February of 2012.
The county 911 board asked the Pottawatomie County commissioners to call an election on the issue again. Voters will have a chance to decide during the Nov. 4 general election.
We somewhat understand the county commissioners wanting the voters to decide this issue.
Troubling though is this 50 percent increase in the tariff is based on a diminishing source of revenue.
It’s based on increasing the tariff on landlines which are becoming fewer and fewer each year.
The ballot for those in the Pottawatomie County 911 area asks if existing landline fees should be increased from 10 percent to a maximum of 15 percent for those living in the county and not part of any other municipality or government entity. Those in the city of Shawnee would not be subject to the county’s fee.
County Commissioner Randy Thomas explained the decreasing number of landlines is affecting funding for the center.
While it would vary depending on location and phone provider, on average the increase would be about 87 cents a month on the average phone bill.
By his own admission, he realizes there are fewer landlines which will be assessed the tariff.
This is ridiculous. It makes no sense. How many more times in the future will voters be asked to approve an increase?
And, we are curious as to what the number of landlines is today in the areas affected by the tariff compared to more than 2 ½ years ago when voters soundly rejected it then.
If the commissioners are trying to appease the county 911 board by this, they need to stop it.
Equally troubling is county commissioners and Shawnee city officials appear to be making no effort to merge the county 911 system with the city of Shawnee’s.
We think voters throughout the county, including those in Shawnee and elsewhere, would embrace a merger. It’s logical and it would provide for more efficiency.
In checking with the county election board, there is still time for the county commissioners to back up and rescind their action of last Monday. The ballots for the Nov. 4 election won’t be printed until after Labor Day in early September.
We think they should do that and then work with the city of Shawnee and other entities to merge the two systems into one.
Otherwise, this proposition is doomed for defeat.


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