"There are some things where we pay for more security in our lives. We buy health insurance or home insurance or life insurance to protect ourselves and our loved ones if anything unexpected were to happen to us," Patton said. "If a person chooses not to carry car insurance, he's not only breaking the law but he's gambling with the future. But the consequences on the day he does get caught are that much worse for not having taken the proper precautions," he said.

For Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton, the choice is simple: Vote for the 911 replacement levy on the November ballot and maintain the current advanced technology, or vote "no" and risk a return to a past of slow response times and increased mortality.

"There are some things where we pay for more security in our lives. We buy health insurance or home insurance or life insurance to protect ourselves and our loved ones if anything unexpected were to happen to us," Patton said. "If a person chooses not to carry car insurance, he's not only breaking the law but he's gambling with the future. But the consequences on the day he does get caught are that much worse for not having taken the proper precautions," he said.

"I think the 911 levy is a tax we pay for the privilege of living in the kind of society we live in, that we pay for quality of life we get to enjoy in this country."

The levy is a "replacement" instead of a "renewal" because the state of Ohio decided not to reimburse the counties for certain expenses out of the tangible personal property tax, a direct loss out of the 911 operations fund totaling $140,000 a year.

As of September 2006, Union County has had only one 911 call center in operation. At that time, the call center at the Marysville Police Department was merged into the operations at the Union County Sheriff's Office.

"By merging the two and avoiding having to buy two of everything when it came to equipment, we've been able to save the county more than $330,000 over the past five years," Patton said. "But by completing the merger we really made it even more imperative that we fund the remaining 911 service that we do have."

Property owners pay $20.52 annually per $100,000 of assessed property value under the terms of the existing levy. If the levy passes, that same property owner would pay $22.97, or an additional $1.45.

"It comes out to something like 6 cents a day," Patton said.

With the proliferation of cellphones over the past decade, the 911 call statistics have been soaring. From 2000 to 2010, calls increased 123 percent, from 6,014 to 13,433 annually. Police calls have nearly tripled, fire department calls nearly doubled and accident reports quadrupled over that time.

"When there's an accident out on 33 and someone sees it as he's driving by, he can call that right in to the center and we can get an emergency crew out there right away," Patton said. "The 'Golden Hour' is still very important when it comes to response times. The sooner we get to accident victims, the more lives we can save. It's that simple."

Patton lamented the timing of the replacement levy.

"I suppose there's no good time to come and ask for money," he said. "But the committee we formed to look at this decided that replacement was the way to go. For an extra penny a day, we'll be fully funded through 2018, an extra penny for a service that, when you need help, it's there for you."

Union County's 911 phone service began operations in May of 1989.

If the levy does not pass, Patton said, funding for the service will not be available in 2013.