911 fee increase on June ballot

BISMARCK, N.D. - Calls for service to fire and law enforcement departments in Bismarck, Mandan and Burleigh County have jumped more than 25 percent in the last four years. In 2014, calls totaled a little more than 150,000, compared to 2017 when the Central Dakota Communications Center fielded more than 200,000 calls. As a result, the agency that takes all those calls says it either needs to expand or find a new building.

The center wants to raise the 911 fee that comes out of your cellphone or landline bill from $1.50 to $2 a month. They say change you could have in your pocket is what could make a big difference.

"We've doubled the amount of calls, doubled the amount of activity since the time we moved here, and there just isn't room to grow," said Mike Dannenfelzer, Central Dakota Communications Center.

He says currently people are paying $1.50 for their monthly 9-1-1 fee, with 50 cents of that going to the state and not being used by CenCom.

The increase request would be on the June ballot, and if approved by voters, you could be getting billed $2 for the fee.

"The ability that we have to respond to things quickly, to have the updated equipment and facilities that we need is imperative for the public safety of the community. And 50 cents extra a month for that fee, I don't think is too great of a cost to ask," said Chantel Hartl, CenCom dispatcher.

Those 50 cents? Well they will be specifically used for the facility.

“And we're certainty looking forward to an opportunity to plan a new facility that is going to serve the community and that would always be there if people need help," said Dannenfelzer.

They are hopeful the community will put their two cents in and pass it on the ballot.

Dannenfelzer says they have an endorsed plan to negotiate an agreement with Dakota Carrier Network up North to relocate their building.

But those definitive answers won't come until after June and if the people decide to pass this 50 cent fee.