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November 26, 2013

Under one roof: Commissioners discuss 911 center consolidation

PRYOR, OK — Under one roof

Commissioners discuss

911 center consolidation

Firefighters from multiple departments, emergency responders, attorneys, city and county elected officials and Boy Scouts assembled at the county commissioners’ meeting Monday.

The main agenda item was contract termination between the 911 Center and Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority.

Commissioner Darrell Yoder introduced the subject, reading the agenda item as “a discussion on termination of contract for Emergency 911 Dispatching services with the Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority and giving 90 days.

“I’ve done my research. I’ve talked to a lot of people and visited numerous other 911 centers all to gather information,” said Yoder, who spoke to the 911 Center director for the Joplin area and was told the one thing she would change is to have all the dispatchers under one roof. “That’s her goal and it’s my goal.”

Yoder said response time is key and dropped calls are unacceptable.

“There’s been a lot talk about whether the center can run on its own, financially. I did the math, did some internal investigation. I looked at our numbers and the numbers from Rick [Langkamp]. I think it will run on its own easily,” said Yoder.

“Two chairs in the dispatch center is roughly $304,000. Monthly operating expense for the center is $75,000.  MESTA took in $252,000,” Yoder said.

He continued to explain the ultimate goal is to have as many agencies as possible dispatching under the same roof. The new independent enter would run under the direction of the board of county commissioners for a short time, before being turned over to a governing board.

At this point in the meeting Yoder made a motion to sever the contract and give MESTA a 90-day notice of termination.

“Do you want to bring more liability on this board? Because I’m not for that at all,” Commissioner Ryan Ball said.

Yoder said the commissioners are already liable, as MESTA is a county agency.

Ball then asked about employment, worried MESTA dispatchers would be out of a job should the two entities be separated.

Langkamp said MESTA currently has seven employees and one supervisor.

Yoder said that should his motion be approved, the next step would be an application period to fill the dispatchers and director position. The county would hire a minimum of four individuals to fill one MESTA seat in the dispatch center.

Ball asked about pay.

“Well there’s a guy out there making $43,000 and some making $27,000. So finding a suitable pay wage would have to be discussed,” said Yoder.

“I’d like to see a timeline for this transition. Seems to me this would create an interruption and dropped calls,” said Ball.

“Well, MESTA would be running it for 90 days, during which time hiring would be completed. A lot of the finer points of the transition would be handled during that time, so the service wouldn’t be interrupted. I do have a plan,” Yoder explained.

“I don’t know what’s stopping other entities from going under one roof with the way it is now, unless it’s a personal issue,” Ball said.

Commissioner Alva Martin said the mayor of Chouteau has expressed interested in getting on board and having representation in an independent center, as have Disney, Langley and Adair.

Ball reiterated his “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” opinion.

Langkamp said he agreed with Yoder 100 percent, that having many entities under one roof would be ideal.

Langkamp asked if there was a way to get an official head count or guarantee on who would want a seat should the center become independent, which the commissioners agreed would be worth finding out.

Yoder rescinded his motion in favor of a new motion to table the issue for one week to allow time to create a power point presentation outlining all the variables in transitioning the 911 center to a stand-alone entity. The commissioners agreed and the motion was approved.

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