New tax provides security for Heartland 911 center - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New tax provides security for Heartland 911 center

ST. FRANCOIS COUNTY, MO -

Counties that still pay for their 911 service with a land line phone tax continue to struggle across the Heartland.

That was the case in St. Francois County until just recently when voters passed a new sales tax and elected a new 911 board.

The newly elected board chairman said the first thing they're going to do is put that new tax money to work where it's needed.

First, he said, they're just thankful they're able to keep the 911 system up and running.

When it comes to calling 911, the voice on the other end of the line could save your life.

“Our 911 and our communications is at the top of the list to keep all of us safe,” Big River Fire Chief David said.

Pratte said now that there's more money funding the 911 center, it helps ensure the safety of victims and crews on emergency calls.

“There's been many times those young operators pulled me out of a ditch out on a critical fire scene.” Pratte said.

Also, a newly elected 911 board member, Pratte said the three-eighths of a cent sales tax will help keep technology, equipment and services up-to-date and functional.

“If it was a failure, we'd step back 30 years in our fire service,” Pratte said.

Board Chairman Ron Bockenkamp said prior to the new sales tax, a land line tax funded 911. But as those lines became out of date, so did the center's funding source.

“That number that previously existed for funding purposed is probably down at least 90 percent,” Bockenkamp said.

Bockenkamp says it's a problem other counties continue to face and it could eventually mean a state-wide change.

“Surely they must approach the question sooner or later. A good approach would be a legislative approach,” Bockenkamp said.

As for here, they're glad to stop the financial problems before they get worse.

“People of the county in St. Francois County, were very receptive,” Bockenkamp said.

“I'm so proud of our 911 and what they've done for this county,” Pratte said.

Before electing the new board earlier this month, the county appointed its 911 board members.

Bockenkamp said the tax will expire after seven years.

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