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Cities learn what new emergency response system will cost them

Lake Saint Louis’ and St. Peters’ share of the cost of St. Charles County’s new 911 emergency response system is expected to be over $200,000 each.

That announcement follows a decision Oct. 27 by the County Council approving a $3.467 million bid from Emergency CallWorks, Inc., a Birmingham, Alabama firm, to build, deploy and operate the new 911 system for seven years.  County officials hope to have the system in place in 2015.

Local and county officials say the present system needs upgrades because of aging equipment and to keep up with growth in the county. The improvements will create a single, unified system for law enforcement, fire, ambulance and public works communications that would help to eliminate the gaps in service which result from the current patchwork of systems.

Jennifer George, the county’s assistant director of administration, told the St. Peters Board of Aldermen at its Nov. 13 meeting that the total bill for the city will be $297,000.

She said the present 2 percent tariff on local service rates to fund 911, approved by county voters in 1984, cannot support the purchase and operation of an improved 911 system. In 2005 and 2014, the county loaned money from its capital improvement fund to maintain the system.

Upgrading the county’s emergency dispatching system has been discussed with municipalities for more than a year, as cities now have to share that cost if they want to retain their own dispatchers. George has said the county must enter new intergovernmental agreements with St. Charles, St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis, Wentzville and O’Fallon that will establish those costs.

City Administrator Paul Markworth said Lake Saint Louis is expected to pay about $33,000 annually under the new plan – or about $231,000 over the system’s seven years of operation. He said the cost for each municipality is based on the number of local dispatchers involved and that the city had actually budgeted $50,000 for its share of the 911 cost this year.

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