PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County 911 center's phone bill comes to about $30,000 per year, County Emergency Services Director Eric Day said.
"This is a pretty sizable expense for maintaining all the phone lines that we have to have to handle 911."
Fortunately, State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services funding administered through the annual Public Safety Answering Points Operations Grant assists with the cost of the bill along with expenses associated with salaries, equipment upgrades and recurring services.
"It’s been a pretty stable source of funding for counties statewide to offset the expenses of operating the 911 center," Day said.
The grant — totaling $10 million — is distributed among the New York State counties who apply to receive the funds, which reimburse them for eligible expenses.
This year, Clinton County received $115,804, Essex County received $236,106 and Franklin County received $184,620.
"New York remains steadfast in our commitment to providing our first responders with the tools they need to respond quickly and efficiently to emergencies," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
"This critical funding will allow counties to make necessary upgrades to their emergency service dispatch operations, creating a safer, more secure Empire State."
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement that emergency response services ensure the safety and well-being of New Yorkers.
"This funding will help municipalities upgrade their 911 response and dispatch operations to increase public safety and enhance overall quality of life.
"We are committed to making sure communities have the resources and technology they need to improve emergency communications and operate efficiently."
According to a press release, counties statewide provide most of the 911 answering and dispatching operations and "coordinate services among municipal, county and state responders."
Counties have used the funding for data communication, geo-location and text-to-911 services.
"These grants play an instrumental role in implementing new technology and resources to aid 911 centers in deploying assistance to New Yorkers as quickly as possible," State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick A. Murphy said in a statement.
"With this funding in hand, our Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications continues working one-on-one with counties and local emergency management organizations to ensure plans are developed to improve their overall capabilities, but ensure our local partners are in line with the latest standards."
This non-competitive, formula-based grant distributes funds "among participating counties based on statistics reflective of a county's operational scope, demographic factors and emergency services call metrics," the press release said.
Essex County's funds go toward operations of the 911 center, equipment upgrades and some salary expenses for dispatchers.
"It’s an annual grant, so all the counties should have gotten something," Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said.
"It’s all part of 911 surcharge money. It should be coming to us anyway."
Jaquish explained that Essex County received a greater share of the grant than Clinton and Franklin counties because they have a combined dispatch system for fire, EMS and law enforcement.
"So the dispatch is a little bigger than the other two."
A lot of people take for granted public safety and other services provided by the government, Day said.
"Your taxes might pay the salaries for the people working there, but there are an awful lot of other expenses."
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