City moves forward with E911 agreement

Published 12:32 am Friday, September 8, 2017

NATCHEZ — After agreeing to split the start-up cost of a consolidated emergency dispatch center with the county, aldermen approved Thursday the E911 interlocal agreement.

The next step is for the Board of Supervisors to approve the agreement, which District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler said would likely happen at the board’s next meeting.

The city’s approval of the agreement had been set for last week, but concerns were raised about how much the city should contribute to dispatchers’ salaries. During the meeting, Natchez Fire Department Chief Aaron Wesley and Natchez Police Department Chief Walter Armstrong also brought up two issues.

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Armstrong said Thursday he had since worked out his National Crime Information Center reporting issue with Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford and Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten.

Bradford said the management agreement allows dispatchers to handle all aspects of the NCIC reports that dispatchers were doing when the systems were separate.

Wesley’s concern was purchasing computer software that would enable real-time access to dispatch logs. The different time logs are important for when the fire department applies for grants, Wesley said.

The software can be paid for in one of two options, either a flat $3,500 each year or a startup cost of $5,000 with annual payments of $1,750 per year.

Fire Operations Manager Conner Burns said fire department personnel already enter the required information into Fire Bridge, the state software program. Before consolidation, Burns said he would get monthly reports from the police department that he could check against his reports.

Burns said he was no longer receiving a monthly report from dispatch to check against his reports.

With the new software, Burns said the reports would automatically be received and he could check reports in real time.

After a lengthy back and forth between Burns, Wesley and Bradford about whose responsibility the reporting was, Bradford said the E911 board should not pick up the cost.

Both city and county boards motioned to split the costs and move forward.

Wesley recommended that in the long term, the option with a $5,000 upfront cost and $1,750 annual payments would be cheaper.

Slover said the negotiation process for the city’s annual contribution began at approximately $310,000 versus approximately $240,000. Slover said now the difference is between approximately $296,000 and approximately $292,000.

Slover said the county would accept the city contributing $292,000.

Another issue, Murray said, is the city had underfunded what it should have been contributing under the past 6 months — by approximately $50,000.

Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said the county would not seek repayment from the city over past payments, as long as everything was corrected going forward.