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Supervisors expect vote Tuesday on E-911 controversy

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 12, 2001
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on a joint city and county proposal that could solve an E-911 dispatcher shortage by early next month.
Supervisors held a conference call with E-911 Commission officials Fred Rogers and Wink Glover at a work session Thursday to iron out kinks in the plan.
Board president Jimmie Smith said dispatchers need to be under commission supervision sooner than May or June which is when commission officials and Supervisors Craig Hitt and Ray Boswell proposed. As a supervisors' committee, Hitt and Boswell have been working toward a solution.
Commission officials say three city dispatchers remain. They are to be given a choice of becoming E-911 employees and report to the commission ultimately under Lauderdale County supervision or remain Civil Service employees and transfer to a city position.
Hitt said an effective date for the transition would not come immediately. Boswell said money is in the commission's budget to cover salaries, but Hitt said employees need transition time. After some discussion, supervisors decided to try a Feb. 1 deadline.
If supervisors approve the recommendation, telephone surcharge rates are expected to rise to $1 for residential lines and $2 for commercial lines. Current rates are 50 cents for residential lines and 90 cents for commercial lines.
Since the proposal did not specifically say Meridian and Lauderdale County would equally split funds not covered by the surcharge, board attorney Les Prichard was directed to make the change.
The proposal says commission officials must give city and county officials "suitable" reasons for additional funding above the surcharge in order to get it.
Hitt said the surcharge increase should cover everything except equipment upgrades.
Hitt and District 4 Supervisor Q.V. Sykes are on a committee to review Metro Ambulance dispatchers' concerns about consolidation. He would not say whether Metro's dispatchers will be brought into E-911.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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