By Eric Tichy
MAYVILLE - Chautauqua County's public safety answering point has been awarded a state grant, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced recently.
The grant is part of a $9 million push to improve 911 centers across the state by rewarding consolidation and collaboration between agencies, the governor said in announcing the grants to 24 counties.
"These grants provide critical support to local governments to improve, streamline and consolidate emergency communications systems," Cuomo said.
"By taking advantage of these grants, local governments are strengthening their ability to respond more effectively and efficiently to any emergency situation and thus raising the level of their ability to serve and protect the citizens of New York state."
The State Interoperability Grant Program consisted of two parts; a larger, $102 million grant was awarded in February to 29 counties to help improve communications and promote a network of regional partnerships with state agencies.
According to Cuomo, the public safety answering point (PSAP) grant awarded this month is intended to reimburse counties for costs associated with consolidation and improvements.
As a result, $7 million was awarded for PSAP consolidation and enhancements, and $2 million was distributed for reimbursement of sustainment and operating expenses to 911 centers which already have consolidated. Chautauqua County received the latter grant in the amount of $93,000.
"This grant will help us offset some of our costs, which is always helpful," Sheriff Joe Gerace said. "It will pay for costs of software and computer systems and some of our expenses.
"It cannot be used for staffing or manpower, however. It can only be used to sustain the operation."
Chautauqua County's 911 center is located within the Sheriff's Office in Mayville, and is responsible for dispatching fire, police and emergency medical services. The entire center, including staffing, costs the county more than $1 million annually, Gerace said.