Trumbull County commissioners recently imposed a 10-percent hike on fees charged to its townships, villages and most of its cities that are served by Trumbull County 911.

However, Brookfield officials are questioning the fee hike, saying it seems to be unfair.

The commissioners also increased the per-call charge $1 to $7. According to the motion passed Nov. 8, the increases are “associated with the Consumer Price Index for the corresponding year.” 911 fees have not increased in 10 years, and the hike is “an appropriate temporary step in the right direction,” the motion said.

“Had the 911 Final Plan been followed the last 10 to 12 years, it’s outlined directly in that, there wouldn’t have been a need for this update or change,” said 911 Director Tacy Bond, who was hired this summer.

She said the 911 Final Plan will be “revisited and updated” and the 911 Program Review Committee “seated.”

Commissioner Niki Frenchko voted against the fee increase.

“We have definitely a need to make sure our 911 services are covered,” she said. “At the same time, we saw some levies go down that are going to cause extreme hardships for some of the townships. I don’t disagree that it should be increased at some level but, at the same time, I think that the townships and the other communities should have been brought together to have some type of public meeting on the discussion relative to increasing fees on everyone when some of these townships are in crisis.”

Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino said he has a problem with the increase on several fronts, and questioned the county’s accounting.

“When I run the numbers, it’s just over 49 percent increase” for Brookfield, he said, referring to call numbers provided by 911. “We gotta figure out what the problem is there.”

Brookfield police budgeted $38,500 for 911 in 2023, and the Brookfield Fire Department budgeted $8,000.

A 49-percent increase would result in the police department paying an extra $18,000 a year, Faustino said.

Faustino said he also objects to 911 double-billing calls in which fire and police both respond. He noted that police frequently respond to medical calls, resulting in both departments being charged by 911, but he argued it’s the fire department’s call.

Charging by call “penalizes those departments that are proactive and busy,” said Tim Gladis, former Brookfield police chief and 911 director and a resident of Brookfield.

“The per-call billing has always been an unpopular method,” he said.

Local departments dispatched by 911 don’t have a lot of say into the costs incurred by Trumbull County to provide 911 service, but increases are supposed to be gradual, Faustino said.

County officials also have shut local departments out of 911 affairs by not convening the review board, he said.

911 needs a steady funding source but the current system forces departments to pull from other resources, such as the number of officers on the street, Faustino said.

When 911 was created in 1995, departments that joined agreed to pay whatever they had been paying for dispatch to 911. However, that has resulted in inequities between departments and does not take into account the size of a community’s tax base, Faustino said.

“I just wanna see something fair,” said Brookfield Trustee Mark Ferrara. “It doesn’t sound like it’s been fair.”

Trustee Dan Suttles said the county wants to sign memorandums of understanding with the member townships, villages and cities. He said he wants to meet with county officials before agreeing to an MOU.

“There should be discussion before on terms of an MOU,” he said.