Mayor Ryan: County Finally Fixes 911 System



I have written previously on the public safety benefits of regionalizing Emergency 911 Communications and Dispatch.

Recently, this 20-year progression toward consolidation stalled as a plan over who would fund the system was rejected by a majority of the County Commission.  In the meantime, E-911 calls were bouncing around dispatch centers under the strain of cell-phone technology.

This week, after lengthy wrangling over legal documents, projected costs and trying to patch a fractured system, the County Commission made a stunning move.

They fixed the system!

Up for consideration was a Municipal Services Taxing Unit ordinance and an accompanying Inter-local Agreement.

The MSTU is generated by the County Commission to levy taxes if the cities acquiesce to that MSTU authority.

The ILA was a complex and technical legal document meant to define the rights and responsibilities of the County and each participating municipality.

All of this had to be drafted, signed and sealed by May 10th in order to place MSTU on the next tax bill.   The process was being rushed to the point of strain to avoid losing another year.

Chaos Reigned


However, municipalities were rejecting the MSTU plan.  They were refusing to participate either because they didn’t have to (because they had a generous BSO contract involving communications) or didn’t want to (because they could get the service cheaper from BSO directly) or couldn’t yet agree (because the documents were nowhere near ready for final approval and would take weeks, if not months to work through all the technical issues).

In the meantime, existing dispatch centers were being asked to provide their centers for the proposed consolidated system. They were terrified to do so with so much chaos on the horizon.

Municipalities continued to pass resolutions practically begging the County Commission to fund this consolidation through a stable and predictable funding source for the entire county. They wanted to  move beyond the decades of parochialism and inconsistent contracts.

Maybe the MSTU model would work under other circumstances, where there was not a long history of inconsistent BSO contracts and 31 municipalities to try to convince?

But, if success was measured by generating a true regional system, the MSTU was destined for failure.

A few were happy to join. Some agreed to join under protest.  Many municipalities refused … and the litigation was about to begin.

A Lesson In Being Open to Change


In attendance at the County Commission meeting were municipal mayors, elected officials, fire chiefs, police chiefs, and many public safety professionals.   None could believe that the County Commission could actually go approve the MSTU and ILA as drafted.  All were prepared to once again be heard, for whatever that would be worth.

However, in a stunning development, even before the public comment, Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, a previously staunch advocate for the MSTU, raised real concerns about the progress of the plan.  To her credit, she was not shackled by her prior vote, but rather re-examined where we were going.   It was clear Commissioner Gunzburger, while supporting the general concept of the MSTU, was not prepared to let the system be further fractured under a failed plan.

When it came time to vote, Commissioner Gunzburger and Commissioner Stacy Ritter changed course and the MSTU plan failed.  Also rejecting the MSTU were the original opponents – Vice Mayor Barbara Sharief, Commissioner Lois Wexler and Commissioner Dale Holness (Commissioner Marty Kiar was not present, but had opposed the MSTU originally).

With the MSTU rejected, Commissioner Gunzburger promoted the original countywide funding plan advocated by Commission Wexler and recommended by the County’s Implementation Board.  Once Gunzburger backed the countywide plan, it had five votes to pass.

Now, for the first time in decades, we have an opportunity to follow through on what consultant after consultant, board after board, and public safety professionals from throughout the County have been saying for far too long – consolidate the dispatch centers under one umbrella. It will protect our residents and visitors, and provide the fastest response times possible by eliminating structural delay in our 911 system.

With a change in votes, our legacy has also changed for the better.

(Michael Ryan is mayor of Sunrise and co-chaired the Broward County Consolidate Communications Committee along with Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler.)  

12 Responses to “Mayor Ryan: County Finally Fixes 911 System”

  1. Broward says:

    I am pleased the County Commission finally approved it, but make no mistake about it, Commissioner Gunzburger only changed her vote to make her incompetent son Ronnie look good and protect his job.

    Also, there was no other reason she changed her vote, so people should not for any reason believe she re-examined the information.

    Commssioner Gunzberger has been apart of this for years and was always against it, so now her sneaky and dirty son’s job was on the hot does she have a “moment” to decide to change her mind.

    Broward taxpayers are not stupid and all anyone has to do is read between the lines.

    Sheriff Israel is re-hiring Commissioner Gunzburger’s daughter back, her son is General Counsel and finally after being apart of a NO vote for over 20 years she changed her vote!!!! This is good for Broward, but her actions and Sheriff Israel’s actionsare Bad for Broward at the same time.

    Why can’t people in these positions just vote to do what’s right by the people of Broward County.

    The only saving grace is that Commissioner Gunzburger is out and in 2016 her son Ronnie and Sheriff Israel will be out next. What a good year that will be!!!

  2. Shameful Mayor Bendekovic says:

    All Plantation residents should join me be upset that their health and welfare is being destroyed by a mayor who refuses to join this system. When we call 911 we will be bounced around the county and it will take precious minutes to find us all because of Mayor Diana Veltri Bendekovic. We will end up paying twice, for the good county system and Plantation’s outmoded system that can’t cope with cell phones. Bendekovic must go before someone dies.

  3. where does it end? says:

    what if you are near the palm beach or dade county line? do we need a tri-county 911 system? and if so, what about if you are on the border of one of those counties? shouldnt we really create a statewide system? but if you live near the georgia border, what do you do? why don’t we use a federal system? do we need mayors? we can always use a larger government agency to control everything that cities do.

    any responseas to where it should end Mayor?

  4. Patti Lynn says:

    I don’t believe that the general public has any idea of the massive impact of a 911 system, or what the communications personnel have to deal with on a daily basis. Those folks need a lot more positive reinforcement than they are getting from the general public. Their job is more stressful than you might imagine. I am proud that the Board of County Commissioners reversed their position, but I would encourage those that still are not on board to spend a few hours in BSO’s communications offices. Heaven forbid that it’s YOUR loved one who is looking for help, and the call needs to be transferred. Every second of delay is a breath that the victim is struggling to make. This really sounds dramatic, but not only is it dramatic, it’s a life or death situation. Those communication people don’t want to harm anyone, they don’t forget the calls that resulted in triumph. Nor do they forget the calls that went south…without them being able to do anything to prevent it.
    I do not believe that Commissioner Gunzburger’s decision was influenced by any familial concerns. She has always taken a position that protects her constituents. The proposed system, (MTSU or whatever), was so disjointed, the board knew that it was a loser before it was even ratified. By the way, I am NOT in Commissioner Gunzburger’s district. I’m just happy that she changed her mind and voted YES to protect Broward’s residents.

  5. Watcher says:

    Firt, Patti Lynn, nobody really cares about what you think and your opinion. You destroyed the Broward Coalition and the membership is so dis-enchanted with you as President. You have your own agenda’s and can really care less about other people and what they think. You are one of the most disrespectful people I have ever met not to mention nasty.

  6. BCDevelopment says:

    Thanks Mayor Ryan for your leadership on this very serious issue…you could have given up after the county’s 1st vote, but you kept the pressure on & inspite of Chippy boy’s lame attempt to spin the issue, the people of Broward have won.

  7. Richard J Kaplan says:

    I want to thank Mayor Ryan for his continuous research, updates and work on this important issue.

    I also want to specifically thank Mayor Stermer, many of the other Mayors in Broward County, along with many of the City Managers and City Attorneys, who likewise provided invaluable service on this issue and went out of their way to solve this.

    We also have to remember those County Commissioners who were out in front of this supporting a true countywide funded system and knew what they had to do. Sometimes the right answer wins.

    It was recognized as a serious problem shared by many and was true team effort by all.

    Lets hope we continue so to finish it.

  8. We won't forget. says:

    Lets remember who voted against it including Commissioner LaMarca and Ryan. We won’t forget. And thank you Commissioner Gunzburger and Ritter.

  9. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Well word has it that Ft.lau finest City Manager Lee Feldman was counting on some big money from the County. Not happening Lee. Then Feldman states to the Ft. Lau Comm(get this) that he may have to raise taxes and fire assessment because he is probably going to be 15/20 million in the hole-listen you Busgy Seigal lookin freak -get firing your overpaid staff(who he is paying them each well over 80 to 90 grand -per year), again sir don’t go to this Comm. because your Mr.big shot and what to play Donald Trump). And you are to busy being up Jonda Joseph’ ass(city Clerk), and calling the cops on me last Spring and then blaming poor Chief Adderly-pig you are Lee. Mayor Seiler I can’t believe you let him say that and get away w/ it-Charlotte Rodstrom would have nailed is humpty dumpty ass. I am glad that this is finally almost all over. Coral Springs, Plantation , fine you don’t want to go along then you explain to your residents that they are being taxed for nothing(your words ,not mine) . Go w/ one uniform system.

  10. Just a token of gratitude says:

    Mayor Kaplan
    As always very well said, I concur with all your comments but I would like to take it a step further. I would like to thank the many foot soldiers that have done their part to make this consolidation come to fruition. There are so many of you it would be hard to name you all. I am sure that the politicians that rely on you are expressing their gratitude for all your hard work and efforts.
    We all know that Politicians are the face of these types of projects. When one or many have an idea to improve something as important as the safety of the county, it would only make sense to get active and involved and follow through. Lol.. Doesn’t hurt the political career much either. Their efforts never go unnoticed with newspapers, television, blogs, ect..
    These words are for those of you who are not political figures who can stay behind the scene and get the job done, even when the cameras are off and the ink has run out. Day in and day out, making this county as safe and run as smoothly as it can be. For that, I Thank You.

  11. just the facts says:

    City Activist Robert Walsh got it right on the record for this one.

    Ft Ldle so desperate for revenue they are actually going to make an audit of FPL because the monthly payouts to the city are ‘way down’ and they think FPL is keeping their money. maybe when people can’t afford ac they don’t run it so bill is $100 not $200 a monh. or hey uper insulate the house so the electric bill that used to be $400 a month is now $200 a month. Thank you to county commissioners that changed their vote ane passed this.
    And relentless common sense by Mike Ryan and Lois Wexler

  12. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    I know “just the facts” Feldman is a weasel. He could care less about the residents. Having an audit because he thinks the City is not taking in as much money. You are right people are watching their light bill. As long as Lee plays Mr.Big Shot (w/ are money) he will do anything to keep his gravy train running. Look at his spread sheets. What is up w/ his “interm City ast.managers?. W/ the stock market doing so well(he invested over 300mill). So where’s that money. Start cashin in lard ass…