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Wake Leaders Discuss Spending More Money for New 911 System

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RALEIGH — When you have an emergency, you want EMS to be on the scene as quickly as possible. Those extra seconds could save a life.

So, how much money should be spent to make that happen, and how much equipment is enough? Raleigh and Wake County leaders are trying to figure out if it is worth spending up to $40 million on a new system.

Saving lives while saving taxpayer money requires a tough balancing actRaleighhopes to achievewithoutsplitting up the joint emergency communications center it now shares withWake County.

For several years, Wake County has wanted to set up its own separate, advanced communications system to handle 911 calls. The city ofDurhamalready has one, as do Cary, Johnston County, andRDU.

Raleigh Council members say the city and Wake County do not need the new $40 million system. They agree with Raleigh Councilman Benson Kirkman that overwhelming facts suggest the system would be an extravagant waste.

"Wake County is paying Raleigh $400,000 a year to operate the current system. The new system is supposed to cost anywhere from $3.4 million or more to operate. The cost of radios [would be] three thousand dollars a piece for the new radios. With the existing system, they cost about a thousand dollars each," Kirkman said.

There has been some talk of compromise in which the city and county would keep the emergency system in the same location but switch it to the new technology. Still, Raleigh's City Council is not budging.

The City Council is waiting to get more information, so after a brief discussion, they tabled the matter Tuesday.