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October 1, 2013

New Albany receives 911 funds

County commissioners approve $85,000

NEW ALBANY — The third time proved to be the lucky number for New Albany officials Tuesday as the Floyd County Commissioners approved the city’s request for 911 funds.

The commissioners unanimously approved $85,000 for the city to come out of the 911 account. The funds had actually been set aside in a line item three years ago as it looked like city and county dispatch centers were going to be merged. However, it was never appropriated and absorbed back into the 911 fund which is controlled by the commissioners.

Last month was the third time New Albany Police Chief Sherri Knight asked for “the city’s share” of 911 funds this year. Her requests were denied two previous times, and after tabling the request, the commissioners decided the city was due the $85,000. Knight had originally asked for $19,752 a month. However, City Attorney Stan Robison seemed pleased with Tuesday’s appropriation.

“We just want our money, period,” he said.

Both city and county residents pay into the 911 fund which receives about $40,000 a month. However, $250,000 a year is already spoken for in payments for equipment and other services.

Commissioners’ President Steve Bush said he hopes the $85,000 will be looked upon as a “good-will gesture” and maybe lead to more discussion about merging 911 centers, which the city previously rejected.

“We are willing to work with the city. We want to be partners,” Bush said. “I hope the mayor will be willing to talk to us about merger, which would save $300,000 a year. I hope he will sit down and not worry about what happened with the parks or the animal shelter [in the past] and just discuss a merger. It’s about public safety. For me it’s an easy discussion.”

Commissioner Chuck Freiberger said he had no problem giving $85,000 to the city out of the 911 fund, but said that money was intended to be used for equipment, not salaries. He said both the city and county could get in trouble, and the 911 fund could be depleted if it is used for salaries and not emergencies or equipment.

“At times we have given more money to the city, but this year the majority of the funds went to the county because they had an emergency. Both deserve these funds,” he said. “The state allows us to use those funds for salaries but I don’t agree with that. If we use it for salaries, we won’t have any left.”

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