What We Do

The Dickinson County 911 Administrator is responsible for the following:

  • Public safety radio system for Dickinson County
  • 911 telephone equipment used in dispatch
  • CAD and mapping systems used in dispatch
  • Establishing addresses in the unincorporated areas of Dickinson County
  • Installing house markers signs in the unincorporated areas of Dickinson County
  • Preparing the annual budget for the 911 Surcharge Fund and payment of any bills throughout the year


The Administrator works under the direction of the Dickinson County 911 Service Board. The Board is made up of members from the Cities of Arnolds Park, Lake Park, Milford, Okoboji, Spirit Lake, Superior and Terril along with the Sheriff, a representative of the Emergency Management Commission, and a member of the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors. The May City and Everly Fire Departments also have a seat on the Board because their districts cover portions of Dickinson County.


There are two sources of funding for Dickinson County 911: Landline telephone surcharge and cellular telephone surcharge.

Landline Surcharge

Iowa Code 34A states that each landline telephone in Iowa shall be billed an amount of $1 per month. The telephone company collects and remits the surcharge to the Dickinson County 911 Service Board for all landlines located within Dickinson County. The same code section restricts the usage of these funds only for equipment used in the receipt and disposition of a 911 call - that is, any equipment needed to receive, process and dispatch the call.

Wireless (Cellular) Surcharge

Iowa Code also states that each cell phone subscriber shall pay a 911 surcharge in the amount of $1 per month. These funds, however, are handled differently. These funds are paid to the State of Iowa. The State pays for the necessary equipment to receive and direct each cellular 911 call to the proper dispatch center. Of all of the wireless funds collected by the State, they are required to send 60% back to local service boards. Those funds are divided up based on land area covered by the dispatch center (in our case, all of Dickinson County) and the number of 911 calls received - with a formula that's weighted toward land area (65%) versus call volume (35%).

It should be noted that no property tax dollars are used to fund the 911 system in Dickinson County. We rely solely on the 911 surcharge funds.


The Dickinson County Communications Center answers thousands of 911 calls each year. Here's a 13-year history of 911 calls in Dickinson County showing the increase in cellular calls (red line) versus the decline of landline calls (blue line).