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Groundwork Continues For New 911 System

December 26th, 2018

Groundwork continues to be laid for the new 911 emergency communications network that will service Potter County’s fire, ambulance, medical services and police agencies. At a recent meeting, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover approved an installment payment toward the system, which carries an estimated price tag of $4 million and has a life expectancy of approximately 15 years. Rather than incurring a major up-front expense that would create an immediate burden on taxpayers, the commissioners negotiated a low-interest loan from a local lending institution with a payback period of 10 years. A portion of the 2019 loan repayment obligation will be provided by a one-mill increase in the real estate tax, which will cost about $1.65 monthly for the average residential property owner. The county also qualified for a $580,000 state grant to help ease the local tax burden.

Consultant Mitch Smith, a former Pa. Emergency Management Agency employee who has been advising Potter County for more than 15 years, explained that through 14 towers, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure, communications coverage will be enhanced and response times by emergency agencies will be shortened.

“Speed of response can be a life-or-death situation,” Smith explained. “The new system will be able to reach some sections of the county that have been underserved. It will also bring you new technology to replace equipment that has become obsolete.” Smith said he is working closely with Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator, and the two have reached out to emergency responders across Potter County to seek input on their communications needs and respond to concerns.

Potter’s County’s current system was installed in 2002. Its life expectancy at the time was 10 to 12 years. Dispatching will continue to be provided from the Tioga County 911 Center, although the equipment is also compatible with other dispatch centers.

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