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Officials may raise taxes for joint communications center

BY ALLIE WRIGHT | DECEMBER 03, 2010 7:20 AM

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A requested $1 million increase in the budget for the new Johnson County Joint Emergency Communications Center could result in a tax increase, the Board of Supervisors heard Thursday.

The budget draft calls for $3 million in spending, up from $2 million last year, and the proposed tax levy is 84 cents per every $1,000 of taxable value, which is up from 70 cents last year.

The new center, which com- bines dispatch for all entities in Johnson County except University of Iowa police, is funded by taxpayer dollars and a few grants, said Supervisors Chairwoman Sally Stutsman. "That's what [the proposal board] feels it needs to operate," Stutsman said. "There's a lot of equipment costs in there." Stutsman said the new system makes sure there are no "dead spots" in the county, compared with the old system, where the entire county wasn't covered.

Though the proposed costs are more than expected, the supervisors are hopeful they will come down.

City Councilor Mike Wright, the chairman of the board that oversees the com- munications center, said the members will meet Saturday morning to discuss the draft and decide on which reductions will be made, then meet again on Dec. 17 to vote on the budget.

John Lundell, Coralville Mayor Pro-Tem and member of the communications- center board, said the members purposely proposed the preliminary budget to be higher than what was realistic, because they knew it could only go lower from there.

"None of the policy board members felt that it would be the final budget," he said. The board is made up of several members, including North Liberty Mayor Tom Salm, Johnson County Supervisor Pat Harney, and Iowa City City Councilor Regenia Bailey.

"We don't know where it's going to be set yet," Wright said. "We will be bringing it down."

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said the Board gave instructions to everyone in the departments to come in at or below last year's budget and after the revisions, everything should come in with only a few minor increases.

"It's just a lot of money," Sullivan said. "It's a big increase, and when we've told everybody else to toe the line, you'd like to think that everybody else is going to do the same thing."

The communications board has met once and reduced the spending by $133,000.

"We need to make some reductions," Wright said.

DI reporter Maria Gibbs contributed to this article.


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