The Index reported this week on a ballot initiative in Adair County to charge cell phone users billed in the county $1 per month to go toward the county’s 911 dispatch center in downtown Kirksville. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill last year allowing such proposals to go to a vote in each county in the state, meaning other counties are bound do the same thing. This, along with his call for more funding for roads and bridges, is one of Gov. Parson’s initiatives to improve infrastructure in the state.
We, The Index Editorial Board, think these efforts to improve the 911 call center are good for the community. Kirksville and Adair County have recently taken steps to upgrade the 911 center, and keeping this vital service as up-to-date as possible should be a priority for the city.
There were more than 20,000 calls to Kirksville’s 911 center last year, so it is clear this is a well-used public service. In a rural area with a high population of older adults, access to emergency services is especially important. Every effort should be made to make sure this infrastructure is as effective and modern as possible.
It makes sense that fees for cell phones are part of the funding plan because fees for landline phones have been in place for years. As the community moves away from landline phones to cell phones, we modernize our funding mechanisms. With an average of almost one call per resident in Adair County last year, this is a service we cannot afford to skimp on. At half a million dollars a year, it’s also not cheap. Every effort should be made to keep it running as smoothly as possible.