Tupelo not ready to approve E911 agreement

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By Robbie Ward/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Not yet convinced of sound fiscal management of Lee County’s E911 Communications, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint a three-member committee to meet with county leaders about the operation’s annual budget.
Operating on a one-year agreement that ends on Oct. 1, Lee County’s E911 board has proposed a three-year proposal that would have included a 30 percent budget increase. Council members have opposed this during work sessions, instead preferring a one-year extension.
The council wants to communicate directly with Lee County E911 director Paul Harkins and other leaders before approving any extension.
“I’m still convinced that the administration of E911 is inefficient,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “Until we can talk with him face to face, I’m not ready to vote on this.”
The current E911 budget is $500,000, while proposed increases have it at $665,500 in 2016. Lee County Board of Supervisors, North Mississippi Medical Center, the city Tupelo and seven other municipalities contribute to paying for the emergency communications system. Each municipality pays according to population.
The E911 board is made up of seven members from entities that pay for the service. All municipalities except Tupelo have agreed to the three-year plan.
The county and municipalities receive surcharges paid by landline and cell phone users to help fund the costs.
City Council members who will meet with county leaders about the issue are Whittington, Nettie Davis of Ward 4 and Mike Bryan of Ward 6.
Harkins said council members can witness actions discussed at the E911 meetings.
“They’re more than welcome to attend any of our commissioners meetings as a concerned citizen,” he said.
robbie.ward@journalinc.com