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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Finding a solution to E911 operations

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A consolidated 911 emergency response phone system for all of Scott County is not just a good idea, it's by far the best way to handle emergency calls for residents of this county.

Because of this obvious fact, the Sikeston City Council and the Scott County Commission have been working tirelessly to crunch the numbers and make this issue a reality.

But increasingly, it looks like the financial numbers simply won't work for the consolidation, despite the best efforts of all involved.

There is no one to blame for this stalemate. The fact is that the consolidation would apparently prove too expensive and, given the economic shape of virtually all governments these days, you can't undertake that which you cannot afford.

By consolidating, both the city and county could eliminate duplication of expenses - or so it would seem. But the costly technology and expensive manpower requirements for the 24-hour emergency line have apparently doomed the idea.

I use the word apparently because some still hold out hope that a solution can be found. But as it now stands, there is simply too much of a financial gap between existing revenues and projected costs.

Despite this setback, both governmental bodies should be commended for making the effort. But they should also be commended for accepting the financial realities and not spending money they did not have or could not forecast they would have.

Someday regional 911 emergency services will be commonplace. Regionalization, especially for rural areas, is a way to better serve the public and protect the public treasury.

It appears that those days may still be a bit in the future.

Most of the funding for 911 emergency services are derived by a monthly tax on your phone bill. But as more people cancel their land lines in favor of only cell phone service, the revenues from that phone tax continue to decline.

The answer, of course, is to add that same tax to cell phones. And as much as I abhor any new taxes, it's virtually inevitable that a cell phone tax for 911 services will someday be a reality.

Until the funds are available or until another solution is found, it appears that the county and city will each fund separate 911 services.



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