Funding increase approved for 911 dispatch

Published 11:06 am Tuesday, September 11, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Clanton City Council approved additional funding to Chilton County E911 during a meeting on Sept. 10.

The city’s portion would increase from $90,702 to $97,900 over five years.

“The increase yearly for the next five years for the city of Clanton is $1,439.65,” 911 director Dan Wright said.

The increase was unanimously approved by Councilmen Awlahjaday Agee, Jeffery Price and Sammy Wilson. Members Bobby Cook and Mary Mell Smith were absent.

Wright said the 911 dispatch center is funded by the state through a surcharge on phones and through local contributions by each of the municipalities, towns and the county commission.

Wright said the state funding provides for the dispatch of emergency call response, and the local funding covers the non-emergency things the office handles, including processing warrants.

Price said if this plan is followed, the funding would still not catch up with the demand, since the additional funds are only based on the current call volume.

Wright said the initial request had been for the full needed amount this year.

“The compromise that was met with all the shareholders was that they could roll that out over the next five years,” Wright said. “We can absorb that. It’s going to be tight, but we will be back in three or four years more than likely, depending on the growth, with more budget needs … The 911 Board is aware of this, this budget will not fully fund us for continued growth.”

Wright said he plans to present additional funding options, considering growth for the future, to the 911 Board after this initial funding proposal is approved.

Currently, funding needs and levels are assessed every five years. Wright said the 911 Board is considering changing this to every three years.

Chilton County 911 has three dispatchers.

From January to August of this year, Chilton County 911 received 18,742 calls. Of these calls, 86 percent were from a cell phone.

“We don’t know where the caller is, so it takes more time to process that call,” Wright said.

Wireless Phase 2 technology is in place to help determine the location of the call, but Wright said it is not always accurate. Improvements to the technology are being made.

Wright said the center may receive as many as 20 calls about one wreck on the Interstate as people pass it.

This can tie up dispatchers causing incoming calls to time out.

“There have been times when we have busied out, and the 911 call is not answered,” Wright said.

Plans are being discussed to establish a mutual aid agreement so that these calls would be transferred to a nearby 911 dispatch in a neighboring county.

Also during the meeting:

  • The Council approved paying a bill to Clanton Tractor.
  • Chilton County Schools Superintendent Jason Griffin thanks the City Council for all it does to support education.
  • Wright thanked the council for allowing them to use office space when the 911 office in the courthouse flooded. Mayor Billy Joe Driver said a building on Jackson Avenue had been purchased and 911 would be moving its office there once some needed renovations were made.