RALEIGH — Wake County's plans for a new 911 center have left Raleigh's ears ringing.
When you need help in an emergency, you call 911. In Wake County, all of those calls go to the same building. But, that's about to change and not everyone is happy about it.
Wake County is building its own 911 center. Construction companies will start bidding on the project January 29. It's on the County Commission's fast track. Commissioners voted 4 to 3 to build the new center.
Proponents say that they are preparing for the the county's future boom. The opposition says that the center is a waste of money, missing one major thing -- the city of Raleigh.
If you live in Wake County and you call 911, it is answered in the Raleigh 911 center, on the bottom floor of the Municipal Building. Wake County dispatchers sit right next to Raleigh dispatchers.
But, not for long -- county leaders are moving forward on a new county 911 communications center to be built off Poole Road. And so far, the city has not signed on.
Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer calls the plan "utter nonsense." Fetzer is leading a unanimous City Council against the county 911 center -- a new building that they are calling unneeded and too costly.
None of the proponents of this new building were available to comment on camera. But County Commissioner Stewart Adcock told WRAL by phone that the commission plans to move forward -- with or without Raleigh.
"I want a county-wide system. If the city wants to come on board -- good. If not, we're still moving forward with a new center."
Mayor Fetzer says that the commissioners are bound and determined to build the new center, but it is a project for which he can find no justification.
If Raleigh does not agree to be included in the new building, there are questions about dispatching, transferring calls, and city-county cooperation in a major emergency. County Commissioner Yevonne Brannon says that the current center has several more useful years ahead, and now is not the time to invest in a new center.
Speaking of money, no one knows exactly how much the new center will cost. Estimates range from $4.5 million to as high as $12 million. The bidding starts in three weeks.