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The 911 call center in Covington that dispatches police, fire and ambulance services for the city is shutting down by the end of the year.
Those in need of emergency services will be redirected to the county's center in Independence. It's a process that has been ongoing for months but still hasn't settled on a funding mechanism.
Kenton is the only county in Kentucky with more than one call center for emergencies. Currently the center in Covington provides service for its residents. The county's center based at the Kenton County Police site in Independence provides services for rural Kenton County as well as Taylor Mill and Independence. Erlanger's center provides dispatch services for the rest of the county including Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright, Lakeside Park, Villa Hills, Park Hills, Ludlow, Bromley, Crescent Springs, Crestview Hills, Elsmere and Erlanger.
FOX19's Dave Culbreth sat down and asked the county's Judge Executive Steve Arlinghaus some questions.
Dave Culbreth: You originally wanted to fund the center with a $35 fee to be added to all vehicle registrations in the county, why did that change?
Steve Arlinghaus: Well, Dave, we looked at a number of options, about a dozen total. And we looked at different, various ways as to what would be the most economical and fairest way to try to spread that cost to reach every resident of Kenton County. Our poll that we did clearly indicated that the public was far greater in support of putting a $6 a month fee on our electric bills as opposed to a $35 fee on vehicles.
DC: The cost of that, though, adds up to $72 a year, whereas the vehicle fee was $35?
SA: Right, but the average homeowners have two and a half cars. So, if you do the math that just kinda breaks down and it's more economical. Plus the fact that on a monthly bill, on an electric meter is just a $6 a month charge which is more palatable than a one time fee of $35 or $70 or $105 for vehicles.
DC: Some people will say, why don't you just take it out of something else, cut something, don't charge us anymore. What's your answer to that?
SA: Well, people can say cut, cut, cut all day long and we've done a lot of cutting. I've made some cuts, I've made some reductions, I've trimmed a lot of areas where I thought it was waste and I was able to balance that budget and actually we came in under budget over $3,000,000.
When asked why the fee isn't added on the water or sanitation bill, Arlinghaus said that many people live in rural areas in the county and don't get public water, they bring their own water to their homes. When asked about putting it on the cable television bill, he said that many people have satellite dishes or just antennas. When asked about putting it on property taxes, he said that it wouldn't be equitable because many people rent and they wouldn't be contributing their fair share.
The issue will be voted on again at 9 a.m. on July 24.