Originally created 11/17/06

Council to remove 911 fee



ALLENDALE - A proposal in Allendale County to charge property owners $34 per parcel to pay for emergency 911 services has been shot down.

The Allendale County Council said they wanted the fee to cover the $300,000 needed to pay for dispatchers and associated emergency needs.

But Thursday night, after backlash from several property owners, the council voted 4-0 to remove the fee from tax bills, which will be mailed in the coming weeks.

Councilwoman Theresa Taylor was absent from Thursday's meeting and did not vote.

"We were wholeheartedly against it," said Council Chairman J. W. Wall Jr. "The council did the lesser of (other) evils."

Property owners argued the fee was unfair because they'd be picking up the bill while nonowners did nothing to chip in.

"It's unconstitutional because not everyone is treated fairly," said attorney Woody Gooding, who owns several parcels in Allendale.

Without the fee, the county will be left with about $60,000 to pay for 911 services, money that comes from a $1.50 fee from residents with a land-line telephone, said County Administrator Art Williams.

The council did not resolve how it would make up the remainder. Members said they would address it later.

Several of the 20-plus people who attended recommended raising the county mill rate.

"I think eventually, that's the only legal way to do it," Mr. Gooding said.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.