More than two years in the making Rogers County E911 Trust Authority finally formed Monday as a legal trust when the Rogers County Commissioners and trustees signed the indenture documents.
Although the details of operation have yet to be finalized, the board will no longer act as an advisory group to the county, but collectively as beneficiaries to the E911 Center.
The center is only weeks from completion as both groups have been trying to reach the milestone in an effort to move forward after months of negotiations.
The process was rooted in service and increasing public safety, according to Rogers County Commissioner Dan DeLozier.
“This is not about opting in or opting out. You do not have to be in. It is about providing the best service for the citizens of the county,” DeLozier said. “If there is an emergency in this county then first responders will be able to talk to each other.” he said.
“We are willing to come on board because it will make the service better by bringing everything into one center,” said Foyil Fire Chief Randy Atchley. “There is potential for growth for this center down the road and that is something that we should not forget.”
Commissioner Mike Helm spoke briefly about the financial concern and obligation of the Board of County Commissioners in the future, comparing the entity to the jail trust authority. Helm was concerned about the BOCC being held responsible for any financial shortfall that could occur in the future.
Helm has pointed out from the formation of the trust where the responsibility to fund the center would come from, and how it would be divided among the beneficiaries.
Attorney James C. Orbison made it clear to the BOCC and trustees present at the meeting that the county has no statutory requirement to provide E911 service to the public.
“You do not have to legally subsidize the 911 services,” Orbison said.
If the E911 Trust Authority does not have the required funding to function, then the trust could increase fees for service to increase revenue or the center could close if no funding was available.
The towns of Oologah, Talala and Chelsea as well as several fire districts have agreed to join the trust.
However, the towns are not required to fund the center, only pay a fee as agreed upon by contract with the authority, according to Orbison.
“The county is already on the hook,” Orbison said.
The county owns all of the facilities of the center and has the employees that will operate the center, he said.
“There are a lot of details that need to be worked out.” Obrison said.
DeLozier pointed out it would be necessary to continue to support 911 services regardless of the financial state of the trust, in the interest of public safety.
Although the board was discussing the “worst case scenario”, each member agreed it was better to discuss the issue before approving the measure.
“(It is) for the health and safety for the people of the county,” Helm added.
The newly formed trust authority will meet 10 a.m. on Thursday to begin the process of determining a structure for the board and other critical functions.
“I want to thank everyone that is willing to be on the trust. It is a big step,” DeLozier said.