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E-911 plan stalled

By Staff
Editor's note: The following story was written for today's edition of The Meridian Star before high winds struck without warning Saturday in Lauderdale County. We present it as written to illustrate that emergency situations occur even in the absence of city-county agreements.
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Dec. 17, 2000
Lauderdale County supervisors are afraid city officials will pull out of an agreement that could solve the E-911 Commission's dispatcher shortage so they aren't supporting the proposal yet either.
When five city dispatchers left to work in other city positions, the E-911 Commission didn't have the funds to replace them. Commission officials say more city dispatchers may leave by the end of January.
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt and District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell are on a supervisors' committee to find a solution and present it to other supervisors. They have been talking to other supervisors one-on-one, but Hitt said they haven't gotten a verbal commitment for a third vote that would pass the proposal.
The proposal calls for a doubling of surcharge rates. Residential lines would be charged $1 monthly and commercial lines $2. It calls for Meridian and Lauderdale County to split the funding for any costs not covered by the surcharge.
Dispatchers would be under E-911 Commission supervision, and E-911 officials would report to the board of supervisors. City dispatchers would have to chose whether they will remain Civil Service employees or become E-911 employees. It requires city, county and Metro Ambulance dispatchers be consolidated and cross-trained to handle all calls.
Hitt said supervisors' hesitancy isn't the only factor holding the proposal back.
Commission officials say city officials have vowed to provide personnel to fill in as dispatchers until there is a solution.
E-911 Director John Mott said there are five full-time city dispatchers left, and two more have come back to work part-time. Together they work 24 hours a week. The part-timers help the situation, but do not fill the void left by five full-time dispatchers' absence in one of the busiest times of the year, he said.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.Sheila's story

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