County#039;s E-911 in #8216;disarray#039;

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

Crenshaw County's E-911 system was a main topic of discussion Monday morning as the Crenshaw County Commission ultimately agreed that the system was &#8220in trouble.”

Commission Chairman Ronnie Hudson said that E-911 wanted to take out a loan for $25,000 from First Citizens Bank, but because of a lack of assets from E-911, the county commission would have to become the guarantor for the loan.

&#8220We would be responsible for paying back the $25,000, with interest possibly added,” Hudson said.

Commission Ronnie Blackmon suggested giving E-911 the $25,000 and saving the interest money.

&#8220911 wants to stand on their own,” Hudson said. &#8220They are trying to show that they are going to do that.”

Commissioner Ed Beasley said that the entire E-911 situation had him very concerned.

&#8220We need to take a different direction on this,” he said. &#8220The whole thing is in disarray. Maybe we need to find someone or some service to contract the whole service out to.”

The system is currently funded by a $2 fee on telephone land lines. However, with more and more people using cell phones, the number of customers using land lines gets lower and lower.

Hudson said that he had spoken with Sen. Wendell Mitchell and Rep. Charles Newton about the issue, which included a possible $2 additional water bill fee for county residents.

&#8220They (Mitchell and Newton) said that if E-911 wanted to do a $2 water bill fee, it must pass through legislation first,” Hudson said. &#8220They would want to have community and town meetings about this first and listen to what the people have to sayŠ.but, if we don't come up with some kind of funding for it, it's over.”

&#8220I just think there's a cheaper, better way to do it,” Beasley said.

Blackmon said that it was ultimately the responsibility of the E-911 board.

&#8220In the long term, as the county grows, the demand for the services will grow,” Commissioner Charlie Sankey, Jr., said. &#8220Now we've got our backs against the wallŠwe need to sit down with the E-911 board and see how to get this system funded.”

&#8220If the people see a raise in their water bill but no accountability, the people won't vote for it,” Sankey said.

Hudson said that it was important for all municipalities across the county &#8220to pay their fair share” in funding E-911.

Blackmon said that he wanted to see at least the minimum of an operating budget from E-911.

&#8220Well, I've seen at least three different budgets from them,” Beasley said.

County Administrator Doris Thomas noted that she had not seen &#8220anything in concrete” either.

&#8220People's salaries have gone up, inflation has gone up, but the funding stayed the same,” Hudson said. &#8220This should have been taken care of years ago, even though, this is not just a Crenshaw County problemŠ.it's happening all over the state.”

Sankey made a motion to give E-911 $25,000 at the discretion of Chairman Hudson. Comm. Beasley asked that the motion be amended to say that each commissioner be polled on the issue before any money is given. The motion was approved.