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E-911 agreement awaits supervisors' approval

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Dec. 9, 2000
A proposed interlocal agreement hammered out earlier this week to solve a shortage of E-911 dispatchers hangs in the air awaiting approval from the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.
Five dispatchers have already been lost, and five more may leave before the end of January.
The proposal calls for Meridian and Lauderdale County to split the costs of operating the E-911 system. Dispatchers would report to an E-911 Commission department head. That person would report to Commission officials, who would report to the Board of Supervisors.
City dispatchers would have to decide if they want to remain city Civil Service employees or become E-911 employees. Their salaries and benefits would not change. Any who chose to work for the city would be replaced by new employees, Hitt said.
The proposal came after a meeting of District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt, District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith, Meridian Chief Administrative Officer Ken Storms and E-911 commissioners Wink Glover and Fred Rogers.
Boswell said he wants unofficial support from three of the five supervisors before placing the matter on the board's agenda.
E-911 commissioners asked the supervisors last week to raise the county's surcharge. Under the proposal, the surcharges would double and all dispatchers from the city, county and Metro Ambulance would be cross-trained to handle any kind of call.
Residents' rates would go from 50 cents to $1 and businesses would pay $2, rather than 90 cents. Hitt said commission officials have rate comparisons indicating that "Lauderdale County is way behind the rest of the state" in surcharges.
Some of the costs comes from non-emergency calls, which all involved in this week's negotiations agree must stop.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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