Urbana Council Tentatively Agrees To Plan For METCAD Funding
The Urbana City Council voted 3-2 this week to give its tentative approval to fulfilling its fiscal year contribution to METCAD 911 service. Alderwoman Diane Marlin says she's surprised the full amount hadn't already been paid. But both she and Mayor Laurel Prussing say the state is partially to blame for the funding falling short.
Marlin proposed the ordinance, saying she was surprised the city budget for METCAD was $95,000 short. Prussing said paying for 911 has been a problem for cities, because for years, state law tied funding to a fee on land line phones.
"There was no provision for dealing with cell phones, " she said. "The state legislature finally got around to dealing with it, but the fee was so low on cell phones, that every time somebody switched, we would lose a dollar. So the difference in paying for 911 systems fell on the cities, the county, and the University (of Illinois.")
Marlin said the state has yet to release the funds that have been collected on that surcharge. Meanwhile, she says the budget standoff is having other effects on local governments.
“They’re withholding motor fuel tax funds, which is what we need to repair our streets and sidewalks," she said. "They’re not passing on the video gaming revenue that’s due to us. For the city of Urbana, we had budgeted $300,000. That's a huge amount for our budget.”
Backers of the METCAD ordinance Monday night include Urbana City Council's lone Republican, Alderman Michael Madigan, who said it’s a question of honoring a previous agreement.
Marlin says her ordinance simply rearranges funds, and the mayor still has the final say on making the payment. The city council takes a final vote on the ordinance next week.