Claremore Daily Progress

January 4, 2013

E911 talks prompt outside counsel search

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Planning for the new Rogers County E911 Center continues as the trust authority met Thursday for the first meeting of 2013 to discuss 911 fees for area agencies and building location.

The discussion also included the authority’s decision to seek outside legal counsel and possible accounting assistance.
The two issues came to light as the members became more familiar with the center’s finances.
Rogers County has more than 26,000 cellular users that pay a fee of 50 cents per month per phone line. These fees go to fund 911 services throughout the county.  
In the month of December, the county received about $24,000 in funding from these phone users.
This fee is not based on the billing address of the phone holder, but the location of which an individual establishes phone services. In other words if a resident of Rogers County purchases a cellular phone contract in the city of Owasso the fee would be collected by Tulsa County, according to E911 Director Janet Hamilton.
Additionally, the county receives approximately $32,000 a month from landline phones.
The two funding sources will serve as the primary funding mechanism for the E911 Center. Currently, the department is being supplemented by the Rogers County Commissioners budget.
Commissioners created the department in 2012, funding the 2012-13 budget for the department’s payroll.
After June 2013 E911 phone line fees and service fees will fund the department by each entity that joins the department, according to Rogers  County Commissioner Dan DeLozier.
Some of the expenses the department is currently incurring include $348,785 for dispatch salaries, $61,000 for administrator salary and approximately $14,000 for department travel.
These expenses are currently being paid through the commissioner’s budget.
In the coming months, the trust will determine the fee for each organization the uses the center that will fund these personnel expenses, relieving the commissioner’s budget.
To help with this process the trust authority is entertaining the idea of hiring an accountant to serve the authority.  
In a related matter, the trust authority discussed finding legal counsel for the trust. The trust authority cannot be represented by the Rogers County District Attorney due to a conflict of interest, according to DeLozier.
This is the same process as the other trust authorities that operate in the county, DeLozier added.
Assistant District Attorney David Iski has been serving as legal counsel for the trust authority and E911 Center until another attorney can be hired.
DeLozier is requesting that any area trust attorneys that are interested in working with the trust authority contact Hamilton for more information.
In other business, the board looked at finalizing the location for the center and resolving issues with alarm calls.
During previous meetings an alternative location for the building was discussed. Once plans to change the construction of the building were released, some trust members looked at alternatives that could save the department money.
“The problem I have with an alternate building plan is that we have already spent money on architects. I would have a hard time justifying this to the taxpayers,” DeLozier said.
The board settled on the existing plan to build the 4,100 square foot building at the location north of Claremore on Highway 88. The commissioners are expected to open the construction for bids next week.
 The board briefly discussed the number of calls that result from residential and business alarm services. 
Hamilton reviewed the alarm statistics in an effort to resolve the high number of unfounded alarm calls. These calls are due to false alarm or accidental alarm calls. 
Currently police officers and deputies respond to all alarm calls. Rogers County Sheriff’s Office and Verdigris Police Department responded to approximately 1,357 alarm calls of which, many were false alarms, according to Hamilton
The goal is to promote a response to actual emergency situations versus false or tripped alarms. The trust members are looking at procedures that could improve the problem. Tthis could include charging a fee for false alarms.