911 board denies director’s plan to increase revenueBy Stephen Dawkins Published 5:44pm Friday, August 10, 2012
Since the number of people with land telephone lines isn’t likely to increase, and Chilton is already charging as much as it can per line, Wright’s revenue plan focuses on the amount paid to 911 by police and fire agencies that use its service. That amount is currently based on the populations served by the respective agencies.
Wright said a better way to determine what each agency should pay would be to base it on percentage of call volume each agency accounts for. The total amount collected by 911 is what Wright said the department needs to maintain its current level of service.
Under the plan, Chilton County would pay $4,077.57 more per month (for the sheriff’s department and rural volunteer fire departments), the city of Clanton would pay $2,897.93 more per month, Jemison would pay $627.42 more per month, Maplesville would pay $321.85 more per month and Thorsby would pay $99.37 more per month.
Wright had a tough sell because the people voting on the measure were the very ones that would have to pay him more: Sheriff Kevin Davis (the chairman of the board), county commissioners Allen Caton and “Red” Turnipseed, North Chilton Fire Department Chief Jason Scott and Cedar Grove Fire Department Chief Adam Price.
Caton said he voted against the proposal because the county can’t afford the increase.
“As a county commissioner, we have several departments we have to be concerned with,” Caton said. “I sit on that board as a commissioner, and my first duty is the people of this county. I can’t justify giving him so much more money and not giving money to any other department. It’s got to be fair.”
Caton said that as commissioners budget for the next fiscal year, he will look for options to provide extra funds to 911–but he said there are no guarantees.
“It’s just going to be tight,” Caton said.
Wright said he plans to continue pushing the plan. If it isn’t passed, he said the fourth dispatcher position would have to go. Even after cutting that position, there would still be much ground to make up, according to Wright’s projection.
“We’re asking for the bare minimum to do what we need to do, and we’re not getting it,” he said.
Caton said the only apparent solution is for the Alabama Legislature to approve higher surcharges on cell phones.
“Until the state goes in and makes the corrections, 911 is going to continue to lose money,” he said. “It’s not something we as commissioners, or as board members, can change.”