Monday, June 21, 2004
By Len Barcousky, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Last fall, Franklin Park and a number of other north suburban communities appeared to
be on a fast track to become part of Allegheny County's emergency dispatch service.
That's when a half dozen municipalities gave a one-year notice that they planned to leave
Northwest Regional Communications and join the county's 911 system. Such a move
would save Franklin Park at least $70,000 a year, borough Manager Ambrose Rocca
predicted at the time.
That was because suburban residents already support the county system through a
telephone fee of 74 cents per month. Only a portion of that surcharge -- $3 per person per
year -- comes back to the suburbs to support regional centers such as Northwest.
The switch also would represent a step toward eliminating fragmented emergency
services, a long-term regional goal. Although Allegheny County operates a central
dispatch center funded by the monthly tax on telephones, many emergency calls still are
being handled through five regional centers or by municipal dispatchers.
Most other Pennsylvania counties handle 911 calls through a single center.
The plan to open the county dispatch system to additional municipalities was sidetracked,
however, by the election of a new Allegheny County chief executive in November.
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