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County, cities to split 911 service cost
Active 911 well used by county responders
new deh county commission 911 photo web
Pictured is the Barton County Communications Office. The County Commission approved the renewal the department’s Active 911 membership Monday morning. - photo by Tribune file photo

Barton County and the cities in the county will share the cost of the Active 911 system utilized by the Communications Department, the County Commission decided Monday morning as it approved the annual renewal of the subscription. 

Active 911 is a digital text messaging system that delivers alarms, maps and other critical information instantly to first responders and allows response efforts to be monitored in real time, said 911 Director Dena Popp. The texts act as a secondary, backup messaging system for the first responders and the system has been in place for six years.

Used by municipal emergency responders throughout Barton County, Communications has historically covered the cost for all users, Popp said. She asked that the commission authorize renewal of services with a municipal cost share. 

In 2013, the county first approved Active 911, and at that time, it utilized 190 seats, or licences for first responders, at a cost of $10.25 per seat. It proved its worth and more subscriptions were added.

In 2021 the county hosted 250 seats, Popp said. The cost has increased to $12.25 per seat.

Last year, Popp discussed possibly having the municipalities in the county pick up part of the tab for the service. This year, she presented several options that included the county paying for everything, as well as breaking down amongst the cities.

“It is just a big thing that when I ran for this position I really wanted our cities and our county to work more closely together,” District 3 Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson said. “And this is an opportunity to maybe facilitate some of that.”

He supported the option that had the county pay for its memberships, plus up to 10 for each of the municipalities. “That’s a nice happy medium to me.”

Ellinwood Fire Chief Chris Komarek said his department had the money in the budget to cover the additional expenses. He didn’t think any of the other cities would have an issue either, with the totals coming to just a couple hundred dollars per department.

Komarek said they use about 35 seats between firefighters and emergency medical services.

So, the county will pay for 269 seats at a cost of $3,318.81, covering the county and up to 10 for each municipal emergency provider in the county. The 911 Department will then bill those providers for additional seats over the allocated 10 slots at an estimated cost of $1,004.50.

The county’s 911 tax will cover the county’s expense.

No local vendor that can provide this service at a fiscally feasible cost.