Garrard likely to get full control of 911 management

Published 8:13 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Vicksburg-Warren E911 Commission wants to turn over all communications center management to director Shane Garrard.

The commission Wednesday voted to recommend the Board of Supervisors amend the interlocal agreement with the city of Vicksburg for 911 to allow Garrard the freedom to determine how many full-time and part-time dispatchers will be on staff.

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Garrard told the commissioners he plans to have a staff of 17 full-time and eight part-time dispatchers. He said training for new part-time dispatchers begins Sept. 24.

Giving Garrard more freedom to hire dispatchers and manage the 911 communications center was discussed previously by the commissioners and was briefly discussed by the Board of Supervisors at its meeting Monday. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen agree with the proposal.

“The city of Vicksburg wants the 911 director to have full control over staffing,” Vicksburg Fire Chief Craig Danczyk said. “We want staffing to be what it needs to be; we’re not asking to reduce staffing. We want the director to make the decisions where it’s beneficial to service, and we want not to have to discuss monthly on cost fluctuations.

“I think he’ll be successful; all budgets have to be managed.”

The commissioners on Sept. 12 recommended the Board of Supervisors and the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that the emergency communications system operate on a fixed budget of $46,000 a month for one year. The plan would allow Garrard to budget the money as needed for the month and cost the city and the county less. The supervisors balked at the plan, but later said they would discuss the proposal further.

One reason given for opposing the plan was the reluctance to amend the recently passed fiscal 2019 county budget.

Danczyk said the plan would not require the Board of Supervisors to amend the budget.

“The county budget doesn’t have to be changed; we just want the 911 director to have full control and he makes the staffing decisions he feels is in the best interest of 911 and the residents. We’re just saying, ‘put together an efficient model and manage accordingly.’ We’re not going to micromanage.”

Efficiency, he said, was the goal of the fixed budget proposal, adding it set a budget goal, and if the costs ran over the difference could be made up by using the 911 surplus.

“We’re just saying we want to be fiscally responsible and give him (Garrard) full control, and I think we can do all that. I think as a director he’s going to embrace having additional control, and then six months out, or a year out, we can see where we’re at, and hopefully everything’s in line,” Danczyk said.

District 1 Supervisor John Arnold, a commission member, said the proposal would eliminate Garrard having to go to the Board of Supervisors to get permission to hire another dispatcher.

“You’ve got 17 full-time dispatchers. If a good dispatcher walks in the door, as it stands now, you would not be able to hire that person,” Arnold said. “That’s what we want to eliminate; that you can hire another full-time (dispatcher), cut down on the overtime.

“We don’t have to approve your plan; the plan’s going to be what you to implement,” he told Garrard. “If that plan has to change two weeks from now, or after this is approved by the supervisors, it’s up to you. You don’t have to call us. You run it.”

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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