Thursday, June 7, 2012


It was quite surprising to hear 9-1-1 Project Manager Joe Concatto (see video below) suggest that Stark County should consider not taking 9-1-1 emergency cell phone calls placed to towers located in Stark County if the state of Ohio fails to renew a monthly 28 cent tax which expires on December 31, 2012.

Watch as Stark Council of Governments (SCOG) chairman and Canton Safety Director Thomas Ream expresses his pessimism that the tax will be renewed at this past Monday's SCOG general membership meeting .

Others were not so down-in-the-mouth about the prospects of the tax being renewed.

They include Concatto and SCOG Governance Committee Chair Randy Gonzalez (also Jackson Township fiscal officer) as also seen in the video.

Gonzalez is having state Rep. Kirk Schuring come to the next committee meetingt Thursday, June 14,  at Jackson Twp. Safety Center (meeting time:  1:30 p.m.) to describe the likelihood of getting the tax extended.

Also included in the more optimistic view is Stark County Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Warstler (who did not attend Monday's meeting).

Warstler says he believes that when the smoke clears and when election day November 8th comes and goes, the Legislature will get down to business and pass an extension of the tax like it did four years ago.

The tax has been in existence for eight years and has been used by Stark County to purchase the equipment and software it needs to place Stark's emergency cell phone receiving capacity in "state-of-the-art" status with the ability to upgrade as equipment and software need replacement about every five to seven year.

Warstler says Stark is "good to go" for at least until 2015 and perhaps until 2017 whether or not the tax (fee) is extended. 

While he downplayed Concatto's suggestion, he did not foreclose the possibility that should Ohio funding dry up that Stark County could be forced to instruct the cell phone industry not to forward cell phone generated 9-1-1 emergency calls to the Stark County Call Center.

If such were to happen, Warstler says a likely scenario would include a return to the "old days" wherein cell phone calls were handled by the Ohio State Patrol.

But he emphasized that he felt that the tax would be renewed and that the talk about Stark County possibly getting out of the business of taking cell phone initiated 9-1-1 emergency calls.

What strikes the SCPR about this speculative discussion started by Concatto is how political the continued existence of basic and critical services to the general public is.

In yesterday's blog, the topics were the continued viability the Stark County Narcotics Metro Unit (Metro) and the Stark County Crime Lab (Lab).



The Ohio General Assembly including local Republican legislators Christina Hagan, Kirk Schuring and Scott Oelslager (sort of) voted to support Republican Governor John Kasich's call for massive reductions in local government funding which support, either in part or wholly, programs like Metro and the Lab.

Now it becomes a political question of whether or not Ohio wants to continue to financially support the infrastructure of cell phone 9-1-1 emergency calls.  As most political observers know, Republican officeholders these days are quick to kill any taxes (fees) they can get their hands on no matter how important the cause may be.

So the next time Stark Countians are tempted to think that what the likes of Hagan, Oelslager, Schuring and Slesnick (Democrat - Canton) do in Columbus does not have much to do with day-in, day-out life here in Stark, think again.

Just in areas of crime management and emergency services cost cutting in the Ohio General Assembly could include:
  • not getting drug dealers off Stark County streets,
  • huge delays in the investigation and prosecution of crimes, and
  • the elimination of county cell phone users ability to make emergency 9-1-1 calls direct to Stark County emergency responders
It is important for Stark Countians keep abreast of Hagan, Oelslager, Schuring and Slesnick and hold them accountable for what they do in the Columbus beltway that affects all of us Ohioans and Stark Countians.

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