PROVO — When a grandma in Lehi falls and calls 911, Utah County takes the call, sends emergency crews and then bills the city.

Now, the cost of helping Grandma has gone up.

The Utah County Commission on Tuesday raised the rates cities pay for calls to Utah County emergency dispatch.

The rate is being increased from $11 to $15.50.

Provo, Orem, Springville and Pleasant Grove have their own dispatch centers, but the rest of the cities in Utah County contract with the county for dispatch services.

Rate increases like these have prompted some cities to make some noise about breaking away from the county dispatch center, said Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy .

In an attempt to keep the cities together in one dispatch center, the county wants to establish a special service district, which would be a cooperative effort between the cities and the county.

The services would be the same, but the cost and the decision-makers would be different, Tracy said.

If approved, the district would be governed by a board made up of a representative from each city that receives dispatch services, as well as a member from the county.

Those representatives would make the administrative decisions, such as fees, instead of the county commission and the sheriff.

"The decision making goes back to the end user which is the best," he said.

Creation of the district would be established by the county, but whether it can collect taxes will ultimately be decided by Utah County residents, who have to vote if an entity, such as this, would be allowed to tax.

Depending on how many cities decide to become involved, those taxes will be fairly small, according to some officials.

"If we were able to tax every parcel (of land) it would only be $20 per parcel," said Utah County Commissioner Steve White. "Currently what the county is paying (for the dispatch) is $3.6 million."

The county subsidizes the amount cities have to pay so as not to alienate cities that can't afford a large fee, but also don't have their own dispatch center. The county has tried to keep the price low, but also has to be able to pay for their costs as well, White said.

Both Tracy and White said they think the creation of a special service district will be less expensive, safer and easier.

During Tuesday's commission meeting, Tracy said the creation of a special service district would allow every city to know what's going on in other cities throughout the county in real time and would allow better communication and continuity of dispatch.

Commissioner Gary Anderson told the Deseret Morning News the county will begin to draft the documents for the district immediately.

He said a meeting will take place with the county assessor, auditor and sheriff to create a tentative budget. He called the district a great idea which will save everybody a lot of money.


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