November 3rd, 2020 9-1-1 Surcharge FAQ

On Nov 3, 2020 Grand Traverse County citizens will be presented a ballot proposal to consider a local 911 surcharge of up to $2.50 per device/month through 2027.  As Grand Traverse County continues its growth in population, business, and tourism, the need for providing adequate 911 call answering and dispatching services also grows.

911 calls are up nearly 20% from 2010.  The ability to properly staff, train, and equip the operation, both now and well into the future, is dependent on 911 surcharge and community support.   

What is the local 911 surcharge?

A surcharge assessed to all landline, wireless, and VOIP service users located in Grand Traverse County for the exclusive purpose of financing facility, equipment, maintenance, and operating costs of Grand Traverse County 911 public safety call answering and dispatch services.  

What is the current local 911 surcharge, and what is being proposed?

The current local 911 surcharge rate is $1.85.  The proposed 911 surcharge is an “up to” of $2.50, contingent upon Grand Traverse BOC review, and designed to fund the operation and capital needs for 911 dispatching services and associated equipment, including public safety radio communications. 

How does this request affect the 911 operating budget?

The proposed local 911 surcharge would generate up to approximately $2,777,000 annually, and would combine with other state 911 and local revenue to fund operating expenses, maintenance of current equipment, and capital improvement needs for radio communications equipment and associated infrastructure. 

In addition to funding the current operating budget, what are some of the key priority investments and initiatives that will be supported with an approval of the 911 surcharge?

    Staffing plan update to include 800MHz radio communications technical support, and 24x7 supervisory coverage at the 911 center. 

    Facility upgrade to add two workstations for back filling extra staff during festivals, severe weather, high profile incidents that create extra call volume, and training. 

    Radio system infrastructure upgrades to create redundancy, and improve coverage for emergency voice and paging communications for first responders.

    Responsibly prepare for future technologies, and the eventual replacement plan for existing 911 call answering systems, and radio and paging communications equipment.

If the request fails, what does that mean for the residents of Grand Traverse County?

With the support of the community we are proud to provide the citizens of Grand Traverse County with the highest level of 911 service, regularly exceeding the national standards of answering all 911 calls within 10 seconds over 99% of the time.   Subsequently, this leads to efficiency in dispatching local emergency services – getting help to you quicker, when it matters most.  If the request fails, our ability to meet these expectations also diminishes, and may result in deficiencies in the 911 system, as well as a potential for increased first responder safety concerns and response times.

How does the $2.50/per device proposal compare to other local communities?

    The average voter approved 911 surcharge assessed in the region is $2.49, with Benzie and Missaukee collecting $3.00, Kalkaska at $2.52, and Wexford at $2.25.

What are the projected average annual costs that would be supported by the 911 surcharge?

    Personnel/Operations                           $1,772,962.00

    Contracts/systems maintenance                                         $230,500.00

    Radio communications infrastructure improvements              $250,000.00

    Radio and Paging Equipment maintenance/replacement         $420,000.00

    Facility/911 systems replacement                                         $130,000.00

Can you provide examples of improvements have been made since the last surcharge request in 2014?

    Upgraded 911 phone handling system to be compatible with the modern IP network.

    Purchase and installation of 800MHz radio consoles in the 911 center.

    The first community in the nation to move to P25 paging solution for first responders – improving coverage and saving money over legacy systems.

    Upgraded radio communications to 800MHz for all Grand Traverse County public safety agencies, providing better interoperability between departments, a larger network footprint reaching outside department boundaries, and increased first responder safety. 

    Advancements in location accuracy for wireless devices which results in quicker response times.

What improvements are needed, and would be realized as the result of an approval of the current 911 surcharge proposal?

    Utilize an existing Grand Traverse County communications tower to improve radio and paging coverage for all public safety agencies.

    Add microwave link to radio communications system in order to reduce risk for potential radio and paging downtime at the 911 center.

    The continued maintenance, programming, tuning, and repair/replacement needs for all P25 public safety paging and radio communications equipment in Grand Traverse County. 

    Adding of one FTE to staffing plan to properly manage personnel needs of the 911 center, and ensure the proper workspace, resources, tools, and training are available for success.