Possibly a slight increase for 911 service

ALPENA – Local phone bills are going to have a slight increase beginning in July if a proposal from Alpena County 911 Director Mark Gurisko gets the nod from the full board of commissioners on April 30.

During Wednesday’s finance committee meeting, Gurisko requested the surcharge on both cell and land line phones in the county be increased to help offset the cost of future upgrades at the 911 center. The finance committee approved the request, but the increase can only take effect if a majority of the entire board follows suit.

Gurisko said in August 2012 voters in the county approved a ballot proposal that would allow the county to charge a surcharge of up to $3 a month for operations of 911. He said there hasn’t been a need to charge that much, but in order to prepare for future expenses an increase is needed. Phone owners have had to pay only $2.14 per phone, per month. That could jump to $2.46 per month soon. Overall it will cost phone customers an extra $3.84 a year per phone.

Gurisko said the state and federal government are going to be increasing their regulations and requirements to 911 systems future changes to the system more than likely will be needed. He said those upgrades will be costly when it is time to comply and it is best to think ahead and to begin saving funds.

“I don’t feel like we need to go all the way up to $3. I think this will be sufficient to provide continuing operations plus putting money aside for the five-year capital improvement plan and it is also getting to the point where I’m going to have to begin to replace some things,” Gurisko said. “With this increase I should be able to work with it for three or four years and not ask for another raise.”

Gurisko said the surcharge amount will be re-examined about this time next year.

In other business:

  • Maintenance Superintendent Wes Wilder received permission to hold a silent bid-type sale for surplus county property and equipment. Wilder said he hopes to begin the sales process in the first part of May.
  • the committee approved accepting a $25,000 Air Service Awareness Grant that can be used to promote and advertise Alpena County Regional Airport. The county’s match for the grant is only 10 percent or $2,777. The motion to accept the grant specified it be cleared by legal review and the grant review process.
  • the committee agreed to continue on a month to month basis with Securus Technologies to handle inmate telecommunication services. The past agreement has expired and the company had proposed both a one-year contract or a five-year deal. The commissioners felt it would serve the sheriff department best to continue ahead as it is now.
  • Wilder also put out bids for three county vehicles. The highest bid for a 1996 ambulance was $550 and $500 for a 1993. An old county dump trucks’ highest bid was $1,125. After seeing the bids Wilder contacted a scrap yard and learned he could get more for the vehicles by selling them as scrap. He said he got an estimate that the ambulances would be worth about $1,600 and the truck $250 a ton.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.