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Scott County, Sikeston to negotiate for contracting 911 dispatching services
SIKESTON, Mo. -- Representatives from Sikeston and Scott County will form a committee to negotiate the county contracting with the city for 911 dispatching services.
Local officials have long talked about consolidating 911 dispatching services, Jamie Burger, Scott County's presiding commissioner, said during a special joint session of the city council and the Scott County Commission on Monday.
"That is something that we're committed to seeing happen," Burger said.
And there would be no better time for the county to hand off its 911 dispatching to the city than when the Sikeston Department of Public Safety moves into its new facility, he said.
"When you move into your new building, we want to move in with you," Burger said.
Burger said the county is facing a $130,000 upgrade for its 911 equipment, which was purchased in 2004.
Officials are trying to determine a fair price for the county to pay the city for 911 services.
Citing a similar arrangement between Ste. Genevieve and St. Francois counties, which have comparable populations, Burger suggested a fair price might be around $425,000.
The county received $186,000 in revenue from the 911 surcharge on landline phone service in 2011, according to Burger. He said he has watched that amount fall from $275,000 because phone users are eliminating landlines in favor of cellular phones which are not charged a 911 fee in Missouri.
"I have three daughters: none of them have a home phone," Burger said. "Cellphone service just keeps getting better and better."
Due to state statutes, the longest contract the commission can commit to is a "three plus one plus one" agreement, Burger said: three years with the option to renew for an additional year twice.
"One of the biggest concerns is what it is going to cost" for the city to provide the service, Sikeston Department of Public Safety director Drew Juden said.
Juden said it would take another six dispatchers to cover 911 dispatching for the county. He estimated salaries and benefits for an additional six employees would cost about $300,000.
Mapping is also an issue to consider, Juden said.
He said if the Scott County Sheriff's Department were to join them on the statewide radio system it would make things "very, very easy."
Juden said there are ongoing monthly costs to consider and that his department would have to get new call recording equipment as well as two new dispatching consoles which cost about $100,000 each.
He estimated capital improvement costs for the city may be about $1 million for the first year.
Juden said liability issues are also something to consider. "We don't have to do anything wrong to end up in a lawsuit," he said.
Additionally, officials are still waiting on line costs from AT&T.
Juden said the city is about 18 months away from needing a 911 equipment upgrade but if they are going to start providing 911 services for the county it would make sense to do it now.
The cost of 911 dispatching for other agencies that the county now handles, such as fire protection districts, and how much they should contribute also needs to be considered, he said.
Mike Bohannon, city council member, asked if the county would agree to a "cost plus" agreement such as the cost to provide the services plus 5 percent to cover contingencies.
County officials "are willing to entertain any proposals from the city," Burger said. "We're going to work with you to make it happen."