cartoon by Chan Lowe, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Broward 911 system (April 5, 2013)

Nobody feels the feedback from constituents as acutely as do municipal officials, and sometimes in their zeal to show how allergic they are to raising property or ad valorem taxes, they miss the main point.

 

That point is that while taxpayers always grouse about having to pay for services (which many Americans believe are provided for free as part of the nation’s unlimited bounty), they don’t mind so much if they know exactly what they’re paying for, and if they agree that it’s necessary.

 

We’re not talking feather-bed pension plans for city employees here, or fact-finding trips by municipal officials to the Big Apple. 911 services are something we can all imagine ourselves needing at some point in our lives, or we can at least easily imagine a scenario where we might dial 911 in a panic and no one picks up at the other end. Or that we call from, say, Margate, Florida only to be connected with a dispatcher in Margate, England.

 

People are willing to pony up for a seamless, efficient, universal system when it comes to handling emergencies in a timely manner. This is something government can do better than the private sector, particularly when it comes to corralling proud, independent local governments and forcing them to cooperate with each other. There’s also the economy of scale argument for a single, comprehensive system.

 

There should be no fear of asking local citizens to pay a little more for their self-protection. They’ll understand. Just get it done. As usual, money talks. It’s the lubricant that enables society’s wheels to turn smoothly. Spend some.