Tennessee County, City at Odds Over Regional E-911 Partnership

The city of Crossville, Tenn., was denied a request to rejoin the Central Communications Dispatch Center after withdrawing from the regional collective in 2016.

by Gary Nelson, Crossville Chronicle / April 27, 2018
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(TNS) — The Cumberland County 911 Emergency Communications District (ECD) turned down a request from the city of Crossville this week to come back and be a partner and contribute toward funding the Central Communications Dispatch Center.
 
The ECD was part of funding the center in an interlocal agreement between the city, county and E-911 district. Each funded a third of the dispatch center budget.
 
The ECD board of directors decided to withdraw from the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement (ICA) for emergency communications in Cumberland County at the end of June 2016 due to financial reasons.
The Central Communications Committee (CCC) is the board that regulates the E-911 Communications Center dispatchers and dispatch director.
 
Currently, the city and Cumberland County governments split the cost of running the center. The dispatchers are considered county employees and the communications director is hired by the CCC.
 
"We're looking at revamping the agreement and wondered if the (ECD) 911 would consider coming back and being a partner in the CCC with any support," City Attorney William Ridley said. "It would relieve some of the burden on the city and county."
 
Everett Bolin, E-911 board chairman, said, "I would love to but I don't feel comfortable doing it at this point. Maybe with another year (in the black) under our belt."
 
Bolin continued in saying the ECD was facing several upcoming costly projects with equipment and a possible expansion at the center.
 
He said the district has been playing catch up on funding because they had spent a couple of years in the red in their budget from reduced funding.
 
Mike Mahn, ECD legal counsel, explained there are only certain things the ECD can fund now by law and operations is not one of those. The ECD is responsible for funding the technology of the center and the building itself.
 
When the ECD withdrew from the agreement in 2016 they said they would "continue to make the 911 Center (Emergency Communications Center) available to the CCC indefinitely and maintain the essential equipment as permitted under applicable state regulations, consistent with our financial capabilities."
 
"At this time I'm not comfortable committing anything. But that's my opinion and it's up to the board," Bolin said.
 
Ridley said one of the issues was there was 50/50 funding of the board and department, but representation on the CCC board was not adequate for the city because the county had five seats and the city had three. He said the E-911 board still has a seat on the CCC board but is no longer contributing any funding.
 
Ridley and County Attorney Randal Boston have both said the CCC agreement is outdated and needs to be revised.
 
Dr. Mark Fox, ECD board member, asked about call volume in the county versus the city.
E-911 Dispatch Director Rodney Shoap reported the county had 11,894 calls dispatched and the city had 8,609 for January through March of this year.
 
Shoap reported there were 24 full-time and three part-time E-911 dispatcher positions.
 
The ECD has four full-time employees including the center's director and E-911 addressing employees.
Bolin said the ECD is operating on an annual revenue budget of $927,000 with employee costs, including benefits, listed at $320,300. Total operating expenses come to a total of $883,437.
 
Their proposed operating budget includes revenue for fiscal year 2018-'19 listed at $888,000 with operating expenses listed at $885,400 leaving a net position of $3,000.
 
The board agreed with Bolin and no action was taken on the city's request.
 
E-911 Director Eric Ritzman reported new Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVLs) are in and are being installed as time allows on all emergency units in the county including EMS, sheriff's office and county fire department.
 
Ritzman also reported a new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system was installed at the center and the transition went smoothly.
 
© 2018 the Crossville Chronicle (Crossville, Tenn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.