Regarding the Failed 911 Emergency Operations Bond

by jhwygirl

The “Left in the West is Back” post has whittled down to a discussion of the failed emergency operations center.

I voted against it, after much going back-and-forth. My reasoning is found in that thread.

Apparently, Gallatin County’s 911 Center, which passed, was asking the taxpayers for $3 million.

Missoula’s was asking taxpayers for $16 million – while the total cost was to be $23 million.

Ultimately, I never saw enough information out there to vote yes and raise taxes “just $27.89 on a $200,000 home.”

The failed emergency center bond has been the topic around the office and several discussions I’ve encountered. What say you?

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  1. klemz

    1. The price per square foot was $450 if you don’t count the storage facility. That’s expensive, obviously.

    2. As far as the campaign, my understanding is that staff can’t campaign for what’s actually on the ballot (the bond), they can only try and sell the project as an idea. Doing anything more would cost money anyway, and I’m not sure where that would come from.

    In SLO, California, a community college put a $300 million bond on the ballot and used some non-political foundation money to fund the campaign. Of all of the times I’ve been blamed for tanking an election, that was the only real time I ever meant to.

    Point is: its a fine moral line and Missoula stayed on the safe side of it.

    3. “Whatever. Knowing the arrogance that secretes out of that building, they’re blaming it all on “uneducated taxpayers” and not on the lack of building a case for the expenditure.”

    I think the conscientious ones know it was a tough sell considering the circumstances. Bonds are a ridiculous mechanism that should be used sparingly, right? I think when we forget that, we’ve become California. Then we’re in trouble.

  2. You are basing the sq. ft. cost on the total cost, right? $23.5 million?

    Regarding your point #2 – how does that reconcile with paying a Helena firm $20,000 to poll the voters in August and for advertising?

    Somewhere else I said – or maybe it was in conversation – that elected officials have thrown all kinds of ideas for bonds into the mix over the last year or so – a Performing Arts Center, a new regional park (or was that the City)? Bare-bones government is what is needed.

    If they took the 911 call center out and built it a modest building along with perhaps some training classrooms for the sheriff’s department, I wonder what that would of cost? That would of opened up room in the current facility. Maybe that would do for the next 10 years or so and we could squirrel away more of that phone tax to get us a nice consolidated facility that would last even longer.

    Again…who knows, who knows. Not enough information.

  3. klemz

    I’m basing that on memory. I ran the numbers several weeks ago, but I’m sure it was based on the project cost. I only brought it up because you asked in the other thread.

    RE: RE: point two: Like I said, fine lines. When you need a boundary call, ask a referee.

  4. goof houlihan

    I’ll respond here about the last post you made, jh, on the situation in Gallatin County.

    The 32 million bond issue that passed this time is just for a jail. The law and justice center would be another similar bond, but the county’s got an old but servicable L&J already.

    The judges and the Sheriff would love “new” and actually only reluctantly supported the jail because they wanted a new “campus” sprawling out into the very edges of suburbia. It was to be a greenfield development bad planning and zoning policy far from the center of town, like a superwalmart on a two lane county road.

    When the city moves out of the L&J there will be plenty of space for a fourth district court and the Sheriff’s office. But it’s likely the city will lease an existing building for the city courts rather than continue to batter the taxpayer for new ego fulfilling erections.

  5. Joni

    I’ll admit that I didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the costs of the bond, but I did vote in favor of it.

    I used to work for one of the software vendors for Missoula 911 and have been in the current center many times. I’ve observed the 911 Operators at work and have enormous respect for them.

    The job they do is difficult and critical. They really are out of space in that teensy little basement room. They do their very best with what they have.

    Personally, should I have occasion to call 911, in need of police, fire or EMS response, I want them to have every possible resource in order to best respond to my emergency. I wonder if the rest of the community has considered that, in voting against the bond.

  6. Joni

    I suppose I should add that the EOC is currently shared by the city and county. We all speak with the same calltakers when we call, and the last time I was there, the dispatchers rotated positions from time to time, so all would work city & county positions.

    This isn’t just a county or city issue.

  7. it amazes me that people would vote for something without looking at the price tag joni;

    “…didn’t really pay a whole lot of attention to the costs of the bond…”

    if i can’t find a price tag or if i am not sure what i am buying is a good value i don’t buy it or vote for it. period.

  8. Jodi

    I rather surprised myself by voting against this, and really felt torn. Clearly we really, really need a new 911 facility and space for the county archives. I feel terrible for Marcia Porter, our wonderful county archivist, for her loss of this facility and for the number of years she has had to labor underground. Neither the archives nor the 911 center should be in the basement, which is not an appropriate place for people or the permanent and unique records of our county and the people who live in it.

    The reason I voted against it is because it would move those things out of the city center. Where the county government is currently located. And where all of that belongs. Archives are kept because they need to be used; putting them several miles away from the people who need to use them is a terrible disservice.

    We’ve already split off some functions by moving the jail out there; we don’t need to do any more. The county utterly failed to tell us why it was a good idea to move these things to the ‘burbs, or to do a cost-benefit analysis of (assumedly) cheaper land vs. the amount of vehicle miles back-and-forth to this silly and out-of-the-way location.

  9. Ruthlmm

    I voted against the measure because I can’t afford to have multiple increases to my property taxes each year.
    In addition, I’ve seen the facilities. Hey, we’d all like new digs, but the ones we have will just have to do.
    My eventual fixed income will not cover the cost of the taxes, even if I ever pay off the mortgage. (And I have a small mortgage, a bit smaller than a third to a quarter of the home’s worth).
    BUT, county would have had a better argument for a new emergency/9-1-1 center if there had been progress on the proposal for a co-operative center with the (get ready folks !) UPCOMING CITY BOND to fund their very own law enforcement center.
    This is idiocy ! Two proposals. Two bond issues. Two tax increases. But, no co-operatiion.
    Please correct me if I’m remembering wrong. But, I recall that the city demanded their new center be downtown, so they refused to consider the joint proposal with county for a building project.
    I don’t recall the exact dollar figure, but I do recall reading that the money saved for County and for City taxpayers would be in the millions, if they built together, at the property the county already owns.
    It seems like a petulant child on the part of the city — “I don’t like your yard. I’m taking my marbles and going home. Taxpayers be damned.”

    The city and the county had the opportunity to save taxpayers money and they didn’t do it. No one gets my vote for property tax increases until I see cuts in non-essential staffing and services, especially in the city budget, and also a co-operative effort to put taxpayers first.

    While I realize the CITY is the one at fault for turning down the county’s co-operative proposal, here’s hoping Michele Landquist brings a more consensus-building tone and skill to the commissioner board. Perhaps the city could have been persuaded by a different approach, a different person.
    Looking forward, and still pinching pennies,
    – Ruthie




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