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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The 911 folks defend themselves

Here's an unusual posting on the web page of the City of Portland's 911 communications operation. It responds to a TV news story that questioned whether 911 systems performed as well as they should in medical emergencies.

Having once been greatly assisted by 911 in such circumstances, I'm a strong supporter of our local emergency operators. And thus it was some dismay that I read down their posting to this passage:

9-1-1 Funding – The Oregon Telephone Tax:

The 75 cent tax that is collected on your phone bill each month pays for a variety of services related to 9-1-1. In addition to paying for all of the 9-1-1 telephone-answering equipment throughout Oregon, this tax fully funds the Telecommunicator training at DPSST (the state's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training).

In early 2009, due to State revenue constraints, 8.1 million of the 9-1-1 tax and interest dollars were transferred to the State's General Fund.

Pass a tax on one premise, use the money for another -- not cool, but all too typical in our neck of the woods.

It was pretty gutsy of whoever wrote that post to mention the raid on the 911 office's funding. As we all ponder Measures 66 and 67, I suspect the pressure is on for all the bureaucrats to fall into step behind our fearless leaders in Salem -- and no questions asked, please.

Comments (11)

Hmm, how long until we hear about a "crisis" in 911 funding, which can only be remedied by taxing them rich who "aren't paying their fair share"?

"In early 2009, due to State revenue constraints, 8.1 million of the 9-1-1 tax and interest dollars were transferred to the State's General Fund."

Is it possible to get a name of who's idea that was and who advanced it?

It wasn't Mr. Nobody.

"dollars were transferred" ... ah, the passive voice, the language of non-responsibility, was used.

Although, to be fair, it occurs to me that this relates to the "color of money" complaint that often surfaces here --- when things come up that folks here support (Sellwood, etc.), there's a lot of anger directed at governments' refusal to move funds of different "color" money around. I think this is an example of moving money around to plug a hole in use A by taking it from use B. If you like A more than B, you're happy; if you like B more than A, you aren't.

I think this is more of a reverse color of money issue. The 75 cent tax is levied for a specific purpose but that pot of money is being raided for other things.

That's what I was trying to say -- this is what it looks like when they _don't_ tell you that they can't move money around to spend it on purpose A because it was raised for purpose B.

Exactly. They cant spend the streetcar money on the failing Selwood bridge because its not the right "color," but they *can* spend 911 money on the streetcar because its sustainable.

I think I get it now.

I wonder what tenuous connection was cited to support the transfer of dedicated funds? A few years back the Dept of Ag pesticide section had to relinquish a good chunk of its 'dedicated' pesticide product registration money to the lab at Albers Mill - for equipment purchases. At the time, the Dept of Ag management floated a very tenuous purpose for the transfer. The pesticide section had practiced prudence, budgeted its expenditures carefully, and had a reserve - and its budget was raided as a result. What lesson will be learned here?

If I'm not mistaken, they did the same with moneys from the Medical Marijuana Program too.

This is also like the raid on Tax Increment Funds and Local Improvement District funds being stolen by Sam from SoWhat to help fund over 2/3rds of Portland's portion for the questionably funded Milwaukie Light Rail-$20 Million. Only a tenth of the length runs through SoWhat.

Urban Renewal District laws require all funds from a district to be spent in the district only. There will be a legal challenge developing in SoWhat about this stealing.

Didn't the State also do this with the Cultural Trust funds?

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