The cost of gathering data base information needed to implement the county's enhanced 911 system could end up costing $171,500 less than expected if the Public Service Commission accepts a US WEST proposal.

But, said Sheriff's Capt. Owen Quarnberg, "We're not going to get overly optimistic about it."The $171,500 is the money needed to gather information necessary to prepare three E911 public service answering points, known as PSAPs. Provo will have its own PSAP, while an Orem PSAP will service Orem, Pleasant Grove and Lindon. The county will run the third PSAP, servicing the remaining cities in the county.

"US WEST proposal, if accepted by the Public Service Commission, would rebate that (money) back to us," said Quarnberg, who is coordinating Utah County E911 preparations. "If that comes to pass, we'll be happy campers."

Quarnberg said it would be wise to extend E911 coverage statewide but said that may be difficult because of possible conflict with other telephone companies. He said US WEST's proposal has received support from other counties.

The Utah County Council of Governments, composed of the mayors of all county cities, recently passed a resolution in support of US WEST's proposal.

Once operational, the E911 emergency service will use computers to tell dispatchers a caller's address and phone number as soon as the dispatcher answers a 911 call. The system can save precious seconds during an emergency and has proved especially successful when emergency calls are made by children.

A 50-cent monthly surcharge was recently tacked onto residential phone bills to finance start-up costs.

"They've guaranteed us it (the US WEST proposal) will not affect our time line at all," Quarnberg said of Utah County preparations. Nor will the proposal require the county to subsidize implementation of E911 in other areas with scant resources.

The local system is expected to be operational by fall of next year, but the county has the option of paying an extra $11,000 if it wants the system on line within 12 months. The PSAPs, however, would have to be ready by then.

"We're pessimistic about our ability to have all the sites ready," Quarnberg said.

But if the county ends up saving the $171,500, he said, it could easily afford the $11,000 to have the system ready early.

Quarnberg said county officials who are busy checking the accuracy of residential data provided by US WEST are about two months ahead of schedule.

"All the cities are cooperating. It's coming on real well," he said.