Emergency management panel tables 911 tax proposal

FAIRFIELD — The Emergency Management Commission decided not to enact a countywide levy Tuesday that would have gone toward 911 dispatchers.

Instead, the commission members voted unanimously to table the motion until its spring meeting in either March or April. The proposed tax levy would have been about 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and generate about $450,000 annually.

The measure was supported by the city of Fairfield, which wants to change how 911 dispatchers are paid because city representatives believe Fairfield residents are paying a disproportionate share for the service.

However, at the conclusion of the discussion, Fairfield Mayor Connie Boyer motioned to table the motion after hearing opposition from other members.

The commission consists of the mayors of all the towns in the county plus the sheriff and one county supervisor. Jefferson County Attorney Chauncey Moulding advised the county’s representative, Supervisor Dee Sandquist, to vote against the motion because he wasn’t sure the commission had the authority to levy a tax on its own without approval from the Board of Supervisors.

During the meeting, Moulding said that mayors in the outlying towns voiced concern about the timing of the vote. The city of Fairfield wanted to hold the vote this month so the tax could be collected beginning in July, but Moulding said that didn’t give the parties enough time to study the issue.

Sandquist said the supervisors have put forward the idea of turning dispatch into a county-funded service. Under the current arrangement, the dispatchers are city employees, and their wages and salaries are paid by the city, while the county has the main responsibility of paying for their equipment. However, the idea of converting it into a county service was not on the agenda and thus not voted on.

At the beginning of the meeting, the commission members elected Sandquist to be board chair and Jefferson County Sheriff Bart Richmond to be vice chair.