Christiansburg leaders do not agree with a change to the shared expense setup for a regional 911 authority. Last week, Christiansburg Town Council said no to a financial breakdown that could lead to a drastic increase for the locality.
The initial agreement in 2010 for the New River Valley 911 Regional Authority is funding equally at 25 percent between Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Virginia Tech and Montgomery County. The Authority has now suggested a formula that is based on the number of calls from each locality answered by the center.
Recent numbers show that Christiansburg has higher call numbers than the other localities, thus meaning the town would have to pay to more under the new formula. Early figures indicate that amount could be as high as $82,000 more a year.
But town officialas are convinced that those call numbers are flawed and would like to see the authority re-examine them before any decision is made.
Christiansburg Fire Chief Billy Hanks told council during a work session on Tuesday the numbers do not match what he has for the past year. At question, he said, is what numbers include calls for both his department and the rescue squad outside of town limits.
“We do answer calls on the interstate and some surrounding areas that are in the county and not the corporate limits. These should not be counted in our total calls. The problem is determining the ones within the corporate limits,” he said.
The consensus of council did not agree with the new financial computation and how it could affect the budget every year.
Councilman Brad Stipes pointed out the numbers could be contested every year, thus causing a huge problem when it comes to determining what everyone is paying into the authority.
The increase would not impact the town until 2019, but would impact it drastically if the current numbers are used. The town’s current contribution is approximately $823,000.
The town is saving money in not having its own 911-call center, but its governmental body cannot understand why the authority is asking for a change just one year into its operation.
“How can we determine any true numbers after one year,” Councilman Henry Showalter asked. He, like his fellow councilman, questioned the call numbers.
The new formula places a rating on each call according to the type and then tallies the numbers to show how many are coming from each locality with a low to high priority.
In numbers provided by the authority, the Christiansburg Fire Department shows on average per week of 918 high priority calls compared to Blacksburg’s 902.
The current numbers do show that Blacksburg’s total numbers are consistently higher, meaning Blacksburg could also be facing a larger percentage of contribution. But again, Christiansburg leaders question the new formula and its first-year totals.
“We need to wait until a concise formula with better numbers are brought to each locality,” Stipes said.
During its regular meeting, council said they had to draw a line in the sand and vote down the request for the new funding formula.
The other partners on the authority have already approved the change, but Christiansburg is hoping their vote could convince the others to hold off on the change.
In order to change the formula, the authority would have to receive approval from the Virginia General Assembly. The group had hoped the request could be made in the fall session in Richmond.