The E911 Trust Authority discussed contract services with Verdigris Fire and Police Departments during a special meeting Tuesday at the new E911 center.
The Verdigris agencies are among several county agencies looking to join the 911 center, set to officially open Jan. 16.
An official contract is still in the works after discussion called for the contract to include a 90 day notice of termination, allowing agencies 90 days to terminate the contract agreement if they feel the need to do so.
The drafted contract will be presented to county commissioners for approval during Monday’s regular meeting said Jim Orbison, legal counsel for the trust authority.
The contracted agreement includes monthly fees to the area agencies seeking to join the E911 Center, guaranteed through the end of the fiscal year, July 1.
Verdigris Fire Chief Mke Shaffer brought up an issue he was having regarding the functional contract. Shaffer said he wanted to be sure the agreement stated what the maximum increase for the monthly fee would be after the first six months of the agreement.
The fee for the Verdigris Fire Department is currently set at $1,000 per month for the remaining fiscal year.
Commissioner Dan DeLozier said there is a possibility that the trust authority will have to increase the fee amount for agencies because of the current increase in dispatch rates.
“We want to have an idea of how much it’s going to cost us going forward after the end of the fiscal year, whether it’s a maximum increase of 3 percent, or whatever,” said Shaffer.
DeLozier said the trust authority has to run the E911 center as a business and if fees need to be raised to keep the center running, then that is what needs to be done.
Verdigris Fire Department currently pays their dispatchers more than anyone else in the county, with the exception of Claremore, said Shaffer.
“We’re not getting dispatch for free. We’re paying our own dispatchers that shadow each and every call on our side,” he said. “That’s about $40,000 a month. Two of my dispatchers have more than 10 years of experience. I want to be sure that I’m not letting those go before ending up in a bind because I can’t afford the increase with the 911 center and then having to start over from scratch.”
Shaffer said knowing how much of an increase may occur will give his board some clarity when deciding to sign the agreement.
“We want to make sure we’re providing the best service to our community, and that were not putting ourselves in a bind for the future,” he said.
Current fees included in the contract with the E911 center will cost agencies thousands of dollars less than what they are currently paying for dispatching service, said DeLozier.
The fee for law enforcement is currently set at approximately $13,000 annually, according to the 911 center draft budget.
E911 Director Janet Hamilton said fees are required to meet the gap between the amount of 911 phone tax collected and monthly expenses.
Verdigris Fire and Police Departments will each provide the amended contract to their departments’ boards during a regular meeting Jan. 13 before speaking with their attorneys, who will also look over the contract.
DeLozer said the 911 Center Trust Authority is more than likely looking at February before contract agreements with Verdigris fire and police, as well as, other county agencies will be finalized.
Verdigris fire and police currently have dispatchers in training with the county as part of a pilot until the new center is opened. With no contract in place and the new center opening Jan. 16, trust authority board members approved a motion to continue the training at the E911 center at no cost until contracts are signed sometime in February.