May 20, 2009 ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Lynn and Mussey townships have followed Berlin in adopting resolutions voicing their non-support of Central Dispatch funding. They join several other municipalities in letting St. Clair County authorities know they won't pay their annual fee.
County officials say the bill is solely for Central Dispatch operations, while the dissenting townships contend the money will be used for equipment and construction to complete the 800 megahertz radio system.
The townships say they're simply backing up voters who soundly defeated a 2007 millage proposal that would have funded the system's completion. Earlier this year, the county decided to pursue the project with funding from bonds. A new tower is slated to be built in Capac.
County Administrator Shaun Groden said the county commission believes emergency first responders' safety is at sake without a fully-functioning radio system.
Currently, police and firefighters say that radio coverage in the western part of the county is unreliable. Oftentimes 'dead spots' force them to use cell phones to communicate. Interoper- ability is also an issue, particularly between St. Clair and Lapeer County agencies.
As a result of their refusal to pay the Central Dispatch bills, the county will withhold their matching road commission fund monies for each.
"The county is paying for the (system completion), the communities are not," Groden said.
The $475,000 the county is seeking to collect from the townships is the same dollar amount they've been collecting from ten communities over the past several years. Since some of those municipalities complained that not everyone was paying, the county began issuing bills countywide, based on call volume.
As a result of their refusal to pay, Berlin Twp. will lose $3,263 of their total $30,580 in road funds; Lynn will lose $1,615 of their total $23,310 road monies and Mussey will see $4,564 less in road funding from their total $25,751 in 2009 road funding.
The municipalities are receiving their bills as their new fiscal year begins. The village of Capac has yet to receive their bill since their fiscal year doesn't start until July. Cities and villages don't receive road funding from the county.