City and county officials still not on board with E911

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

An interlocal agreement between county and city officials to fund E911 remains up in the air.

During their regular meeting in mid-October, the Warren County Board of Supervisors approved an agreement at the recommendation of the E911 Commission that will give Shane Garrard, Warren County’s E911 director, leeway in personnel while remaining within his budget.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The previous agreement limited the E911 director to 17 full-time and four part-time employees.

Board attorney Blake Teller told supervisors during their work session this week that agreement was presented to city of Vicksburg officials for approval, but they remain committed to having a dollar figure associated with the cost to fund E911. That dollar amount from the city has been $564,000, which is the city’s share of the 911 salaries.

“We submitted to them a signed proposed interlocal that gave the E911 director the authority to govern and control the type of employees in order to manage it economically and efficiently without losing quality of service,” Teller said. “They’re coming back again saying they want to put a budget number on it.”

Board president Richard George has called that budget number from the city a cap “and anything over that will be subject to approval in advance by the Board of Mayor and Alderman.”

George questions if the city will pay any funds over the $564,000 they are suggesting.

“How do you put a number on emergency services,” George asked. “The cost is going to be what it is. You have no way of controlling the influx of calls that have to be handled or when a particular emergency will arise.”

“They want to dictate and lock in a number and our director is saying that number won’t work,” Supervisor John Arnold, who is also on the E911 Commission, said. “We’re running 911 and have never had a problem; never run over budget.”

“So do they want to participate or do they not want to participate,” asked Supervisor William Banks. “It’s up to them. If they don’t want to, let them go a head and form their own (emergency services). You can’t put a cap on that.”

Teller suggested that the E911 director come up with the number of full-time and part-time employees and have it approved by the E911 Commission.

“That means we don’t change the existing interlocal and just have an approved mix of employees,” Teller said.

By statute, the county provides 911 service to citizens, which includes those citizens within the municipality of Vicksburg. As a result, the interlocal agreement exists in regard to funding E911 because the surcharge on phone bills are not enough to cover the costs of providing E911 service. The city currently pays 65 percent of the cost and the county provides 35 percent, as well as the facility that houses E911 and the command center.