City Addressess 9-1-1, Special Assessments

Valley City Commissioners discussed its options in an ongoing 9-1-1 struggle with Barnes County as well as special assessments during a special meeting on Friday.

The 9-1-1 issue, or who will eventually control the system, has been a point of contention for months.

Currently, the city and county share the costs of running the 9-1-1 system. 9-1-1 operations are contracted out to the city by Barnes County and is operated from the Valley City Police Department.

City commissioners agreed on Friday that if Barnes County proceeds in taking over operations, which is planned for on or before July 16, then the city should withdraw its financial support.

According to City Commissioner Mary Lee Nielson, county commissioners have repeatedly pointed to Stutsman County as a model of how the system should be run and the Stutsman County 9-1-1 system is paid for entirely by the county with no funds from any of the cities it serves.

“We thought it was a good model,” said Nielson. “When the county takes it over it’s theirs, lock, stock and barrel.”

As long as operations stay where they are, the city will keep running it as it has, Nielson added.

Nielson had previously addressed the Barnes County Commission regarding moving the 9-1-1 system out of the police department into its own offices within the law enforcement building. She believes the system, which is old and therefore impossible to find replacement parts for, should stay where it is until it has been updated.

According to Valley City Administrator Dave Schelkoph, the city will draft a resolution stating its position and it should be ready to vote on at the next meeting of the city commissioners.

Also during Monday’s meeting, commissioners met with the city’s special assessment committee in order to better understand the special assessment process. One question in particular was when it is appropriate to set a city-wide special assessment.

According to Schelkoph, a city-wide special assessment is appropriate when the city can prove that a project is necessary, and prove that it benefits everyone. For instance: if the city decided to replace all of its streets at the same time (which it is not doing), then a city-wide assessment would be appropriate, said Schelkoph. But if the city plans to replace one street that is used by many, the commission wanted to know would a city-wide assessment be appropriate then?

Commissioners directed the city’s legal council to contact the Attorney General to have the requirements clearly defined.