The Burleigh County Commission gave approval Monday night to draft a ballot measure to increase the 911 user fee to help fund a lease with Dakota Carrier Network for a new CenCom and Bismarck/Burleigh EOC facility.

The current 911 user fee is $1 per communications device, with the rate proposed to increase up to $1.50 per device if county voters approve the measure in the June 2018 primary election.

CenCom is a three-party service providing public safety and communication services for all of Bismarck, Mandan and Burleigh County.

"Every 911 call, every non-emergency call, every fire alarm, medical device alarm, every request for assistance from the field units goes through our center," said Mike Dannenfelzer, communications director of CenCom. "If our center can't answer it, then we're not going to be able to provide help to any one of them."

CenCom and EOC are outgrowing their current facility. And, after the flood of 2011, they're looking for a building that can withstand manmade and natural disasters.

"If the tornado sirens sound, our staff continue to sit down and take calls," Dannenfelzer said. "The facility they are in should be a protected facility and also survivable."

Leasing from DCN is the preferred option because upgrading the current facility is not feasible and purchasing land to build a new facility and communications tower from the ground up is not as cost-effective over a span of 20 years, Dannenfelzer said.

"DCN will be taking all the risk," he said. "They're going to build it, finance it and we would just lease it. There is no option to buy or purchase the land there."

The 911 user fee cannot be used to pay for the entire facility. The EOC portion of the facility will need to be funded through both Bismarck's and Burleigh County's general fund.

Last week, the Bismarck City Commission also gave their approval. CenCom and EOC can now begin negotiating a lease with DCN and the language for a ballot measure can be drafted.