The Monett City Council has voted to approve hiring a St. Louis firm to provide an audit of the city's 911 database.
Monett's 911 Advisory Board met on Sept. 24 and voted to recommend hiring the OnPoint company to assess the city's records. OnPoint representative Bart Lovett had met with the board in June to explain what services his firm offered.
Cost of an audit would be $8,199. Bonnie Witt-Schulte, dispatching supervisor, said Lovett expected the city would recoup most of that expense in the discovery of phone lines not being billed. Monett had already benefitted from billing errors discovered when OnPoint audited the Greene County system.
Fire Chief Tom Jones said EFCO, Hydro Aluminum, Jack Henry and Associates and the Monett School District all have multiple lines worth reviewing. Witt-Schulte said with the switch of rural emergency calls going to Barry County's 911 center, a review of the database would be in order.
When city council members met on Sept. 29, the recommendation was considered. Council members wanted to know how the audit would find ways to recoup the expenses. Potential liability issues raised by Lovett in his original presentation were noted. An audit would protect the city if a number was inadvertently left out of the system.
Council members approved OnPoint's hiring unanimously. According to Witt-Schulte, the timeframe for OnPoint's review had not been determined. City Administrator Dennis Pyle told the advisory panel such a review may be warranted every three to five years.
Mayor Jim Orr said the decline in sales tax revenue in 2009 has forced the city to reassess its finances. Previously, the city council had planned to regularly replace the money from the land-line surcharge dropped on rural Barry County customers when the county took over 911 services.
The total, adding up to $60,000 over the year, may not be repaid by the city, Orr said. With $150,000 in reserves, Monett's 911 system will have enough to operate even if it is necessary to dip into savings for expenses other than equipment, the mayor said.
In other 911 business before the advisory board, Witt-Schulte said additional tests were being run on the dispatching system's phone tree, which notifies property owners along Kelly Creek of impending flooding. A number of complaints were lodged by citizens over lack of notification about the Sept. 19 flood.
Witt-Schulte said the number of rings the phone tree will wait through prior to disconnecting has been decreased. Dispatchers expect the pre-recorded message on the phone tree to reach half of those on the list.
Orr asked if it was possible to add unused phone lines to the phone tree, thus shortening the time needed to provide notice. Witt-Schulte said she would take the matter up with Mike Ozbun, the city's phone specialist. Presently, the phone tree uses four lines to make its calls.
As the regional 911 representative to the Department of Homeland Security's Region D, Witt-Schulte reported a general meeting with Homeland Security would be held on Oct. 21 at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. All the new equipment available for the area will be on display.
Grant money is being sought to pay for two more dispatchers for three years, Witt-Schulte said. Funds would also pay for a software upgrade.