E-911 dispatcher shortage may be on agenda

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Dec. 31, 2000
Lauderdale supervisors may vote Tuesday to accept a proposed plan to resolve an E-911 dispatcher shortage.
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt and District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell are on a committee to find a solution. They faced difficulty rallying support from other supervisors for the proposed interlocal agreement between supervisors and Meridian's city council members. They met an additional obstacle when Metro Ambulance dispatchers voiced concerns earlier this month about consolidation.
Hitt said he thinks supervisors will now support the plan and "it's time to bring it to a vote."
If the proposal passes, surcharge rates would double. Residential lines would be charged $1 monthly and commercial lines $2. Meridian and Lauderdale County would split the funding for any costs the surcharge funds don't cover.
City, county and Metro Ambulance dispatchers would be consolidated and cross trained to handle all calls. They would report to E-911 supervisors, who would in turn report to E-911 Commission officials. Those officials report to the board of supervisors. City dispatchers would have to chose whether they will remain Civil Service employees or become E-911 employees.
Supervisors are considering Metro dispatchers' concerns that consolidation will reduce their quality of work. They discussed the matter at a work session earlier this week.
Hitt said there are enough applications in the 911 offices from which to hire new employees, but the goal since the 1980s has been to consolidate.
Boswell said he later obtained information about their wages and job descriptions and found there were 40 full-time and 41 part-time employees. He said supervisors will be comparing Metro's number of employees, their wages and call totals to other ambulance services throughout the state.
E-911 Director John Mott said there are 21 E-911 employees, including himself.
Hitt asked attorney Les Prichard if the proposal was ready to be included on Tuesday's agenda. Prichard said board attorney Rick Barry asked him to complete a draft which is done but did not tell him it would be on the meeting's agenda.
Hitt, Boswell and Prichard say other counties are charging the same as or higher than the surcharge rates in the proposal. Barry was out of town. Hitt said he will continue to try to reach him throughout the holiday weekend to try and get the proposal on Tuesday's agenda.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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