Members of the Rogers County Enhanced E911 Trust Authority expressed their frustration Thursday with the lack of a county-wide dispatch service contract, emphasizing the need for such a contract to garner confidence and participation from local agencies and municipalities.
“What we’re wanting is a (county-wide) contract for (emergency response) services,” said E911 Director Janet Hamilton. “To use an example of why this is needed: Right now, Oologah is currently being dispatched out of Chelsea, so they want to move into Rogers County (dispatch services).
“For those services, there’s an attached fee; but, what’s been told to all of the communities in the past is that if they use Rogers County’s dispatch services, they won’t have to pay any more than what they’re already paying (for emergency response dispatch services).
“Oologah, for example, is paying in the neighborhood of $13,000 a year, with this being something of a hot topic because they — and all the communities in the area — have been told their costs (for emergency response dispatch services through Rogers County E911) won’t increase,” she said. “However, our operating expense exceed the anticipated revenue we would get from the participation of these communities.”
According to Northwest Fire District Chief David Puckett, should all counties participate, there would be no shortfall of funding, and as such, there would be no increase in cost for service. Presently, a dispatch service contract remains unapproved by the county.
“For now, the agencies utilizing our (E911) dispatch services include the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, Verdigris Police and Fire Departments, and Tri-District Fire Department,” she said. “What we’re hoping for is to get a dispatch service contract approved (by the Rogers County Commissioners), without which, the different agencies and municipalities are reluctant to sign on, for fear that their costs (for dispatch services) will go up.”
Hamilton said a draft of the dispatch service contract has previously been presented to the commissioners, but was tabled for further review by Commissioner (Dan) DeLozier for fear of lack of revenue (to offset operating expenses).
Hamilton said the anticipated expenses of operating the Rogers County E911 Center are $1.2 million, from which is an annual $80,000 (estimated) payment to Motorolo for radio system services and salaries of $727,000.
“Really, it’s up to the commissioners approving the contract as to whether or not we’re able to proceed,” noted Inola Mayor Cheryl Charles. “Until we’ve got a dispatch service contract approved, this trust is basically stuck on high center — we can’t move forward.”
“Honestly, we as a board have done what the (Rogers County) commissioners have asked, and now it’s up to them,” added Jerry Smittle, Rogers County Sheriff’s Office. “We came up with a dollar amount (for dispatch service) which was fair, that everyone agreed with and now it’s up to them to make the final move — we’ve done our part.”
Hamilton said she, Puckett, and (E911 Trust) attorney James Oribson will approach Commissioner DeLozier and (county attorney) David Iski, regarding the dispatch contract and the dollar amount recommended by the trust members, after which, she is hopeful it will be approved and other agencies should be comfortable with “signing on” to Rogers County E911.