Worn out batteries to place burden on Emergency Services Board budget

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Barry County E-911 board members held their quarterly meeting in March and discussed a number of items, including the cost of replacing of the center's valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries. VRLA batteries are frequently employed as an uninterruptible power supply for such operations as the E-911 Center.

Replacement of the batteries was not a budgeted item. The $31,847 price tag will place an additional burden on the center's finances, which are already impacted by a lawsuit against the City of Monett over its Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program.

Phillips said that the batteries should have about a five-year life and these had worn out a bit prematurely, but attributed that to several "brownouts" that occurred when the facility was first opened and equipment was tested for system glitches.

The board also approved hiring K and W Mowing, of Cassville, to continue mowing services for the property. The contracted cleaning crew's services, however, have been canceled, and the facility is being cleaned by an individual.

Three dispatchers have left the center, according to Phillips. Among the reasons listed in their exit interviews, was the lack of a retirement plan.

Phillips recommended the board look into implementing a retirement plan, again cautioning the board to wait until the lawsuit had been settled.

Phillips told members that team leaders had been named for each of the center's three shifts, which has helped with the flow of information between shifts.

"It has also helped create a structured environment and a chain of command," Phillips said.

Phillips said there had been an increase in the number of Global Positioning System (GPS) work orders.

"It usually does [increase] at this time of year," Phillips said. "Springfield Press in Mt. Vernon has obtained our data for making local maps. We provide this information to them every year."

Phillips and Pat Blevins attended the Missouri National Emergency National Assoc-iation (MONENA) Conference where a major topic of discussion was the Federal Communication Comm-ission's (FCC) mandated narrow banding conversion due Jan. 13, 2013.

"This center is up to date with the exception of some programming that will need to be done," Phillips said. "Some agencies we dispatch for are not. Bonnie [Witt-Schulte] and I are looking to schedule someone from the FCC to attend a meeting in the county for any agency having questions or needing to know what changes are required."

Another concern discussed at the MONENA meeting was legislative funding.

"I spoke with Allen Wells, president of MONENA, about state funding," Phillips said. "He advised that there will be no legislation passed this year and probably none next year as well.

"MONENA is still going to pursue drafting bills for legislators to look at this year, however don't plan on having them passed," Phillips explained. "A majority of the bills have stated consolidation within the next five to 10 years. It looks like the state is willing to only pass or sponsor bills that have one public safety answering point per county."

That could impact both the Barry County E-911 Center and the Monett Justice Center's communications operations if that is the direction the state is trending.

Over the previous three-month period, the Center has averaged 1,652 calls for law enforcement, 80 calls per month for fire departments within the county, 135 calls per month for first responders, and 177 calls per month for ambulances.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Barry County E-911 Board will be at 6:30 p.m. on June 27 at the E-911 Center in Cassville.

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