SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A roughly 43-year-old structure for handling 911 calls in the city of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County will change on Jan. 1.
Metro Communications is a partnership between the county and the city that was formed in 2007. City and county officials announced in a Thursday news conference that, subject to council and county commission approval, Metro Communications will be placed under the umbrella of the city of Sioux Falls.
“The public will never see any difference,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said.
The money the county pays for the joint service will continue as it will be added to the city of Sioux Falls budget. The city will continue to pay what is required in the partnership.
City and council officials said on Thursday that as the city and county have grown, the calls to Metro have increased.
“(They) take a lot of calls,” TenHaken said.
Metro Communications handles all public safety requests for the entire city of Sioux Falls and all of Minnehaha County, including the cities of Baltic, Brandon, Colton, Corson, Crooks, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Hartford, Humboldt, Lyons, Renner, Rowena, Sherman, and Valley Springs.
Interim Metro director Michael Gramlick said in an April 26 presentation to the Metro Management Council the entity answers to more than 400,000 calls annually.
Natural disasters and similar can increase those daily 911 calls. For example, the April 9, 2013, ice storm generated 4,000 911 calls in the first 72 hours, according to Metro.
Data on the Metro website shows that the entity handles about 300,000 911 calls and nonemergency calls and about 200,000 calls for service or (CFS) each year.
Gramlick described to KELOLAND News the calls for service as those that require a response.
The breakdown of calls shows Sioux Falls with about 172,627 calls for service followed by the county with 31,902 and the city of Brandon Police Department specifically with 6,226.
The joint powers include the city of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County, Gramlick said. Metro also has a partnership with the city of Brandon which has its own police department.
When a person in the city of Sioux Falls or Dell Rapids, for example, calls for an ambulance or law enforcement, those calls are handled by Metro.
“We handle all rural fire departments as well as all rural ambulances,” Gramlick said.
The split between funding for Metro is 75% from the city of Sioux Falls 75% and 25% from Minnehaha County.
Although a graphic, Gramlick shared at the April 26 Metro Management Council meeting, shows that calls in areas near Harrisburg and Tea are increasing, Sioux Falls is the origin for most calls to Metro.
City and county officials said on Thursday the structure of the Metro system needed to change to adjust to growth in the county and city. Metro does not have a support system such as human resources or a legal team, TenHaken said.
As part of the city of Sioux Falls, Metro will have that needed support, TenHaken said.
Metro employees will also be under the city of Sioux Falls. Metro now has 53 full time and 1 part-time employees.