Montgomery County commissioners unveil public safety initiatives

A screen shot of a Power Point presentation explaining the benefits of Smart911.com.

NORRISTOWN >> Innovative public health and safety initiatives were the focus of the Montgomery County commissioners’ meeting as new online services designed to address the opioid crisis and enhance 911 services were discussed.

Officials from the Health Department unveiled the county’s Geostory opioid website, a comprehensive online portal presenting maps, graphs, and information about available resources for individuals and families seeking help.

Geostory was put together by the county’s overdose workgroup, a joint endeavor by the coroner’s office, the Health Department, the district attorney’s office, the planning commission and the Department of Public Safety.

The aim of the Geostory platform is to further the Montgomery County Overdose Task Force’s overall objective of overcoming substance use disorder through prevention, intervention, and treatment. A link to the Geostory can be found on the overdose prevention page of the county’s website.

Another new public safety resource, Smart911.com, also made its debut before the commissioners Thursday morning.

Smart911 is a free, secure website that provides first responders with important information before they arrive at the scene of an emergency.

Citizens can sign up via mobile phone and provide as much or as little pertinent information as they want regarding the health status and medical needs of the people in their household.

If an emergency should arise at a participant’s address, dispatchers and medical personnel would be automatically notified of medical conditions, prescriptions, emergency contacts and other provided information that could cut down on critical response time and ensure appropriate care.

John Corcoran, deputy director for external affairs at the Public Safety Department, said he would like to see residents sign up at smart911.com as soon as possible to take advantage of the potentially life-saving resource.

The commissioners also recognized 911 operator Suzanne Gardy founder of Hogs and Honeys Foundation For Kids, a child advocacy group that supports disadvantaged children, and 106 county employees who donated $4,550 to Hurricane Harvey relief.

In other business Thursday, county Chief Financial Officer Dean Dortone presented the commissioners with a general fund financial update that showed the county with a $45.7 million fund balance at the end of the second quarter.

Dortone said the county’s budget outlook is in line with expectations in terms of overall revenue, and federal and state grant revenues have been received on time. Ninety-seven percent of real estate taxes had been collected prior to the end of the flat-rate period in early June, and the county had not incurred any large, one-time expenses.

While the county continues to keep an eye on the uncertainty surrounding federal and state budgets, according to Dortone, Pennsylvania’s recently announced credit downgrade is not expected to have any significant effects on the county’s credit rating, which the financial team is currently preparing for review.

In other financial business, the commissioners passed an ordinance authorizing the issuance of $20.5 million in general obligation bonds; $14 million of which would go primarily toward financing the refunding of outstanding county-guaranteed revenue bonds; and $6 million in federally taxable general obligation bonds earmarked for financing projects in the county’s capital plan.

The commissioners also passed resolutions authorizing the execution of a grant agreement with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to finance the salaries of local PEMA officials; granting a planning assistance contract to Lower Merion School District; approving a supplemental reimbursement agreement for County Bridge 83 on Butler Pike in Upper Dublin Township and a no-cost time extension agreement for road engineering services on Fruitville Road Bridge in Upper Hanover Township; and authorizing easements pertaining to future construction in the Upper Perkiomen School District.

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