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Sikeston to consider 911 consolidation Monday
SIKESTON, Mo. -- With April 15 set as the deadline, the Sikeston City Council is slated to make a decision on consolidating the city and Scott County's 911 systems at a special meeting Monday.
In discussing current annual costs for 911 dispatching as well as equipment and software upgrades during a special joint meeting of the council and Scott County Commission on Monday, officials figured the combined savings could be $500,000 per year or more.
"I think it's a good idea, myself," Councilman Mike Conway said.
"I like the idea," Mayor Jerry Pullen said. "We've been talking about this for several years."
Councilman Tom Hedrick called for a "vote of confidence ... to move forward," which was unanimously given by the council, although it was short of "an action item to spend money."
Department of Public Safety director Drew Juden said there was "a lot of good interaction" with county officials over the last three months.
"This project right now is very time sensitive," Juden said. "We need to be doing something sooner than later."
Training dispatchers on the new programs could take three to three and a half months "which takes us right up to the timeline on moving into the new building," Juden said. "We need to try to come to a decision as soon as possible."
Juden said county officials provided information last week on additional agencies that are dispatched by Scott County: eight fire departments, four law enforcement agencies and nine agencies that are served with a "a one-button transfer" for 911.
"We currently have three agencies we do one-button transfers for today," he said.
Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger said county officials will contact those agencies about contracting with Sikeston for dispatching and work to "come up with a number they can live with," Burger.
Communities like Perkins, for example, "really have no money," Burger said -- but only account for a few calls per year.
City manager Doug Friend said neither the county nor the city should "subsidize somebody else's 911 service."
While they have worked "diligently and hard" to include all costs, "in the long run, there will be something we missed," Juden said, although "we all feel confident we've covered all the large-ticket items."
"We want to make this thing work," Burger said.
Burger said county officials would prefer not to do the project on a cost-share basis, however.
"We want a contract with the city to provide these services," he said.
Burger said the county of Ste. Genevieve, which has a population of roughly 18,000, contracts with St. Francois County for 911 services for $425,000 per year.
He said the consolidation with Sikeston would bring about that many county residents into Sikeston's system.
Burger said the county could commit to paying $500,000 per year for five years and did not anticipate ending the arrangement after that period.
"Once we move into here, we're here," he said.
Friend said he will work with city clerk Carroll Couch on getting firm figures for the council to look at for Monday's meeting.
"You need to know those numbers before you make that decision," Friend said.
"There's tons of work to be done," Juden said. "This is just the first step up the mountain."