Flaggs touring Tupelo E-911 dispatch center

Published 11:42 am Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mayor George Flaggs Jr., city IT director Billy Gordon and Warren County E-911 Director Chuck Tate are in Tupelo today touring the Lee County E-911 dispatch system and talking with its director, Paul Harkins.

“We’re going to tour their system,” Flaggs said. “We’re going to compare (systems). It’s my understanding they service 80,00 people and they have more units to serve than us and they only use 20 full-time people. I’m going to look at their log sheets, how they schedule their work and look at their budget.”

Flaggs told the Aldermen Michael Mayfield and Willis Thompson in September he was making the Tupelo trip to find ways to reduce the cost of operating the Warren County center.

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Tate said Tupelo’s center is similar to Warren County, adding Lee County just went to five dispatchers per shift at the first of October.

“The mayor has made the claim they do more with less, and I’m not sure that’s exact, but we’ll find out when we get there,” Tate said. “They do involve several small communities that are separate cities, which we don’t have here, so they are handling more agencies perhaps but not that many more. I’m going to make sure the correct questions are answered and asked.”

The trip to Tupelo comes as the Warren E-911 Commission is asking the city and the Warren County Supervisors for more dispatchers. Flaggs, who is a commissioner, opposes hiring more dispatchers and has said he would not support spending more money to hire dispatchers and has suggested putting dispatchers on eight-hour shifts.

Tate has said going to eight-hour shifts would require more dispatchers.

According to information from the city’s accounting department, the city paid $427,816.88 in salaries and benefits in fiscal 2011, an average of $35,651.14 per month; $423,951.45 in 2012 for an average of $35,329.29 per month; $433,991 in 2013, an average of $36,165.93; $455, 636.11 in 2014, an average of $37,969.67; and $477,092 for 11 months in 2015, an average of $43,372.

Harkins said Lee County began running five dispatchers per shift on four shifts for a total of 20 full-time dispatchers, Oct. 1, adding they previously had four dispatchers per shift.

The Lee County system receives between 14,000 and 15,000 calls per month while placing about 5,000 outgoing calls per month, Harkins said.  Vicksburg Warren County E-911 handles between 20,000 and 25,000 incoming and outgoing calls per month, according to Lee CountyE-911 records.



About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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