South Bend, Mishawaka, and St. Joseph County officials discussed a proposal Thursday night to fund the county’s 911 Dispatch Center by pulling money from other agencies, like local libraries, public transit and the South Bend Airport.
Officials said the new funding plan is a way to more fairly cover the costs of the 911 Center without raising taxes for residents.
They also said other funding models were considered but the current proposal is “the least worst option.”
Some members said grants could be used to mitigate the impact by covering some of the funds that would be lost to the center.
Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood said funding the 911 Center in a fair way should be a top priority.
“Public safety in my mind is our most vital public service that we perform at local government and with it comes a heavy price tag,” he said.
If the plan is approved, local libraries would pay the highest price - more than half a million dollars would be cut from their budgets.
St. Joseph County libraries closed early for the night and supporters marched from the downtown library to the County-City building to protest the change.
Among them was South Bend resident Ann Rosen. She said libraries are an important part of the City.
“The St. Joseph County Library is one of our best institutions in South Bend," she said. "They respond to community need.”
Library leaders said the cut could force them to shut down one of their branches.
The St. Joseph County Council will host the first public hearing and is expected to vote on September 10th.
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