E-911 tax to be decided Tuesday

Friday, February 3, 2012

By Lindsay Reed

On Tuesday, Barry County voters will go to the polls to decide a one-eighth of a cent sales tax to support county emergency services.

Jon Horner, Barry County E-911 Emergency Services Board chairman, has indicated that Barry County E-911 only has enough cash to operate until December of this year.

The one-eighth of a cent emergency services sales tax has been projected to generate $425,000 to $450,000 a year, which would give the emergency services board an annual budget of around $1.3 million to operate the county E-911 center.

"From our perspective at the sheriff's office, 911 is something we need to keep," said Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly, who is also a member of the Barry County E-911 Emergency Services Board.

County voters approved a one-quarter of a cent sales tax to establish of the county E-911 system in 2005. According to Epperly, at that time, only three or four other counties in the state were operating without 911.

"We were able to have all of our roads mapped since 911 came in," said Epperly. "This has increased response times for all emergency services."

Prior to the establishment of the county-wide E-911 system, dispatching was conducted by the Barry County Sheriff's office at the county jail. Unlike current E-911 dispatchers, the sheriff's office dispatchers did not receive medical training.

"We offered dispatching with the funding we had available," said Epperly. "It was definitely an important service, but it was no 911 system and it was never going to be. The 911 dispatchers are trained to assist people who are having heart attacks, seizures or in labor during pregnancy."

County operators who dispatched services through the sheriff's department were required to collect addresses and directions for responders. Today, in addition to locating addresses on the E-911 mapping systems, dispatchers can determine the location of a caller who dials 911 from a cell phone.

"I know you know where you live and you know your address, but when you are dealing with an emergency, it is easy to forget," said Epperly. "These dispatchers can see where you are when the call comes in and are trained to keep you on the line. They are trained to calm down those who are panicking."

Currently, the Barry County E-911 operations center employs nine dispatchers and a dispatching operations manager, who also serves as a full-time dispatcher. In addition to Phillips, the administrative office employs two part-time employees.

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  • Our sheriff said WHAT???!!! Do you REALLY think he meant to say that "since 911 came in we have INCREASED our reponse times"??!!

    It is amazing to me how we have seen nothing about this election up here on this end of the county...I think perhaps someone does not WANT us to get out and vote.

    -- Posted by common-tater on Fri, Feb 3, 2012, at 4:58 PM
  • Also, when I saw Jon Horner claim on television last night that the 911 system in Barry County "saved lives daily", I wanted to put him in a corner with a dunce cap on. How ridiculous. Maybe he should provide proof that over 365 people were saved last year that would not have been before we put 911 in effect. Gee, I remember when people called the ambulance or sheriff directly and I never remeber people dying becasue they did. Let's stick to reality and not make juvenile claims for effect.

    -- Posted by common-tater on Sat, Feb 4, 2012, at 6:25 PM
  • Perhaps you should talk with someone in emergency services. Response times for responders have been reduced dramatically over the days when someone had to pull out a phone book, look up the right number, then dial that number to call in an emergency. That's assuming they actually got the right number, as I know of a lot of instances where they had to hang up and call another number to get who they needed.

    -- Posted by Blankman on Mon, Feb 6, 2012, at 4:10 PM
  • Am I the only one concerned and disturbed that the Barry County Commissioners robbed the 911 and Sheriff's Office to pay for a legal battle that had NOTHING to do with either of those departments? Why were the tax dollars we voted for the 911 and Sheriff's Office spent on something else?!?! With that said, nice how the Commissioners' budget DOUBLED for 2012. I am ANGRY, and urge everyone to make the Commissioners accountable by voting NO!!!

    -- Posted by ComeOn! on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 1:45 AM
  • Other than the initial ballot language and appointed board, the Barry County Commission has NOTHING to do with 911. They did not "rob" 911 in the legal battle.

    Monett sued Barry County, Lawrence County, and Barry County 911 for the revenues they felt they were owed from taxes, not the other way around. 911 felt the voters elected for those funds to be used for 911, not for TIF improvements in Monett, so they defended that position (and are still defending it). Unfortunately, the initial ruling has 911 putting over $165K into legal fees and another $250K and growing into an escrow account, which only covers half of what the TIF says they owe and doesn't touch what is considered past due.

    It's not the commissioners to blame for the lawsuit expenditures, rather the Monett TIF board.

    -- Posted by Blankman on Tue, Feb 7, 2012, at 3:06 PM
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