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Helper says no to increase in dispatch funding

Sun Advocate associate editor

Having held the line on its own budget by raising property tax and water rates and forgoing cost-of-living pay raises, Helper City is not going to finance an increase in the Public Safety Dispatch budget.

That was the decision of the city council in setting the municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2012, which begins July 1. The Price Dispatch Center, which handles radio traffic for police, fire and a host of other state and federal agencies in Southeastern Utah, had requested an extra $4,000 from the city for its share of operating expenses.

But Mayor Dean Armstrong noted this would be a 26 percent increase, while some other cities were only being asked for a 20 percent hike. "It would be the only line item in the city budget that would increase by that much," added councilman Chris Pugliese.

Armstrong called the the proposal "an unfunded mandate from the State of Utah."

While he did not criticize the quality of service the city gets from the communications center, Armstrong did say that dispatcher wages are on a par with those of Helper police officers, who are on the front lines of law enforcement every day.

The Sun Advocate sought a response from the Department of Public Safety in Price and Salt Lake, but as of deadline Wednesday had received no reply. The newspaper will publish the state's position when it becomes available.

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