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BarCo E-911 to hold open houses

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Dec. 12, the Barry County E-911 Emergency Services Board heard that the 911 operations center will host open house events each Friday and Saturday throughout the month of January 2012.

Jon Horner, board chairman, reported that the one-eighth of a cent sales tax increase has been placed on the ballot for the Feb. 7, 2012, election. The ballot language states that the additional revenue will be used for dispatching fire departments, ambulances and other emergency services and emergency communications.

A committee is currently being formed to promote the sales tax increase. The committee will hold its first organizational meeting at the beginning of next month.

Mike Phillips, 911 director, reported that the Barry County Operations Center will host open house events from 6 to 8 p.m. each Friday and from 2 to 4 p.m. each Saturday in January of 2012. Dispatchers and other personnel will be available to give tours of the facility.

"We are hoping that if we let people see what will go away if this does not pass they will be more supportive," said Phillips.

Phillips invited members of the board to attend the open house events to talk with community members touring the facility.

Horner also presented a letter from James Orr, Monett mayor, during the board's regularly scheduled quarterly meeting. The letter was dated Dec. 9.

Horner said that the letter contained some inaccurate information. For instance, the letter states that Barry County E-911 refuses to cross train with the Monett 911 system. Phillips said that cross training would not be beneficial for the county system because the systems are not similar.

Horner said that the letter stated that the Monett City Council had asked the Barry County E-911 Board to meet with the Monett commissioners before placing the sales tax issue back on the ballot in order to reach an agreement that would benefit both systems.

"The letter states that the request was rejected but that is incorrect," said Horner. "We had not met since this request had been made, and we had already set the ballot language."

Horner said that Monett was interested in receiving 5 percent of the revenue generated by the county emergency services tax to replace the revenue Monett lost when the Barry County E-911 system became operational.

The letter from Mayor Orr also took issue with the Barry County E-911 Board's decision not to hold an informational meeting about the first proposed tax increase prior to the Nov. 8 election.

"Apparently, the board decided to hold other meetings around Barry County but rejected the offer to explain their proposal to Monett's citizens who would still pay the tax while receiving no benefit," Orr wrote. "The voters of Monett at least deserved an explanation for a tax they would be expected to pay."

The letter from Orr asks Barry County E-911 to consider opening up a dialogue with city commissioners "to determine a course of action that will benefit all residents of Barry County."

"If we cannot agree to at least meet and discuss these issues prior to the scheduled Feb. 7 election, it will be difficult for us to support your efforts to increase the county-wide emergency services sales tax," the letter from Orr concluded.

David Cole, board attorney, recommended the Barry County E-911 Board draft a letter of response. Horner asked Cole to include the statement that the board is not willing to give the City of Monett 5 percent of tax revenues in the letter of response.

In other business, the board also received a clean audit report from Patti Weber, of CPA Group. Weber pointed out that the board's expenses exceeded its revenues for the second consecutive year.

"We also include any anticipated problems going forward," said Weber. "I included the statement that based on the current projected revenue and expenses this board may not operate past December of 2012.

"I also included information that the tax issue was defeated, but that it will be placed back on the ballot," said Weber. "I found no difficulties, no uncorrected issues, no misstatements and no significant problems in the audit."

In other business, the Barry County E-911 Emergency Services Board:

* Approved the financial report.

* Reviewed the director's report.

* Approved a financial ordinance amendment.

* Set the next quarterly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on March 26, 2012.

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