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Dispatch budget increase justified, manager states

Sun Advocate associate editor

Increases in data processing costs, equipment purchases and the first pay raise in five years for dispatchers all led to the rise in the Public Safety Price Communications Center budget, the center's manager explained.

Marjean Hansen said Thursday that next year's spending plan was approved by the Utah Highway Patrol and all the cities, counties and other emergency services agencies in Southeastern Utah that depend on the service.

All except Helper City, that is.

As reported in Thurday's Sun Advocate, Helper did not authorize an increase in its municipal budget to accommodate the requested increase, which would have meant an extra $4,900 in the city's share of expenses. The city council, struggling to make ends meet, did not want to pay the increase of more than 20 percent.

Hansen, who had been out of town early last week, was not available to be quoted in that article.

She noted that the UHP contributes half of the center's budget of $959,000, with other agencies sharing the other half. Helper was asked for $23,650 for next year, or about two percent of the total.

However, she added, Helper gets much more than two percent of the dispatch emergency calls.

Hansen said she thinks the allocation of expenses was fair, and cited the near-unanimous agreement of the agencies as justification for her stand. "The people here are all trained professionals and they have gone five years without an increase in wages," she declared.

The manager said that she had not been formally notified of the city's decision. "We'll just have to send out the invoice and see what happens," she concluded.

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