911 seeking millage renewal.

July 24, 2020

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911 seeking millage renewal.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief


WEARE TOWNSHIP, Oceana County — Mason-Oceana 911 has provided emergency dispatch services to Mason and Oceana counties since 1995. When the service was created, it relied solely on surcharges from landline telephone services. While that surcharge still applies, and while a percent of surcharges from cell phones goes toward 911, the revenue has declined over the years. In 2014, taxpayers in both counties passed a six year .14 mill request from the 911 board to offset the loss in revenue. The board is now asking for another six year renewal, which will appear on the Aug. 4 Primary Election ballot.

The millage is estimated to provide $283,500 worth of funding for the 911 center in 2021.

“Since the initial vote in August 2014 that approved 0.14 mils for 6 years, Mason-Oceana 911 has consistently made improvements year after year,” said Ray Hasil, director of Mason-Oceana 911. “We’re sharing expensive technologies with agencies more than ever. The 911 call answering solution that connected Mason-Oceana 911 and Newaygo County 911 has since grown to a system serving eight counties and five 911 centers. The cost sharing that goes along with that means we now have a better, more reliable system for less money. We’re sharing expensive 911 technologies whenever possible. As a result, Mason-Oceana 911 recuperates tens of thousands of dollars year after year.

“Through fiscal responsibility, we were able to pay off our bonds one year early. The bond repayments have allowed us to slowly begin rebuilding a fund balance that takes into account our financial liabilities, as well as begin saving for future improvements, some of which will take over a decade of saving.

“Fiscal solvency, modern 911 technologies and communications systems are all great but our anchor always has been, and always will be our people. This is our 25 year anniversary, we went live in 1995, and three of the people that started in 1995 are still employed with us today. We’re at the same staffing levels we’ve always had and I’m continually amazed at the incredible job our telecommunicators perform every day. To be able to answer a call and talk someone through a horrible situation, all while sending fire departments, EMS and law enforcement is truly something special.

“Our financial recovery allowed us to loosen some of the constraints we had on staff attending training and conferences. We were also able to go back to having a supervisor on each shift. The supervisors and I meet every two weeks to identify problems, implement solutions, and make sure we are all on the same page.

“The 911 millage is a significant portion of our overall funding. It is also a way to have all people that own property here (but don’t live here year-round) to help fund the local 911 system. Renewing this small millage pays big dividends, and ensures Mason-Oceana 911 can continue to deliver a high quality of service to the citizens and taxpayers we protect an serve in Mason and Oceana counties.”

The ballot language is as follows:


Shall the previously approved increase of not more than .14 mill ($0.14 on each $1,000.00 of taxable value) in the limitation on taxes that may be assessed against all taxable real and personal property in Mason County be renewed for a period of six (6) years, December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2026, inclusive, for the purpose of providing funds for the operations of Mason‐ Oceana 911? If levied in its entirety in the first year, this millage would raise an estimated $283,500 for this purpose.

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