Need for new 911 call center has officials mulling ideas
By LE ROY STANDISH
Everyone knows to call 911 when they need help, but whom does 911 call for help?
A meeting last week between the top government officials of Grand Junction and Mesa County touched upon that very question.
The meeting, which was “not a public meeting,” according to an e-mail to The Daily Sentinel from Mesa County, was described afterward by representatives of the county as a brainstorming session about how to accelerate the construction of a new 911 communications center.
“We were brainstorming on ideas to move ahead with one component of the city’s public safety initiative,” Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.
“I don’t think we have to wait for the city to construct a new public safety facility for us to move ahead with a 911 call facility.”
The city placed a measure on the ballot last fall that asked voters to increase sales and use tax by one-quarter of one cent to raise $5.1 million annually for the construction of a new police station, 911 communications center, four fire houses and a parking garage.
The measure failed with 14,065 votes against it, compared to 11,715 in favor.
Acquafresca said the clock is ticking to get the 911 communications center built within the next two years to comply with federal law.
“We are up against a deadline,” he said.
Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock, Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill and City Manager Laurie Kadrich also attended the meeting.
Hill did not offer a personal opinion on how a 911 call center might be fast-tracked, but he said the matter is pressing.
“I think it is certainly a discussion that needs to be explored because it is the most critical piece that kind of has the clock ticking on it,” Hill said.
He said the Grand Junction City Council is scheduled to discuss the public safety initiative and 911 center during its Aug. 19 meeting.
“We are planning on getting a yes or no on moving forward with a ballot question,” he said.
Peacock said the meeting was an initial discussion on the subject between representatives of the two governing bodies. The County Commission has not discussed separating a 911 call center from the larger public safety initiative, he said.
A main part of the conversation will be the cost. The county’s estimated share of the 911 call center, as part of a larger public safety facility, was about $2 million.
But if a separate 911 communications center is built, the county’s costs could skyrocket.
“I don’t know what stand-alone costs would be,” Peacock said.