County#039;s E-911 in financial crisis

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dear Editor:

Who are you going to call?

That is what we as citizens of Crenshaw County should be asking ourselves.

Currently the E911 System, and for the last 10 years, has been available to take these type calls, but like a lot of other activities and services that are taken for granted, it is facing the possibility of no longer being financially able to continue to provide this service.

Under current law the 911 facilities throughout Alabama and the nation are only allowed to raise revenue through the phone tariff.

What has happened to put 911 into this situation? First, being a mobile society and on the go at all times, the old fashioned land line (wired service) has steadily decreased as the technology of the wireless spectrum has seen a boom.

As stated earlier our revenue to survive comes from the phone tariffs.

The land lines are currently generating $2.50 per month from residential customers and $4.35 from business customers.

The revenue from the wireless industry is currently at 70 cents, but this is pooled and divided throughout the state to each county based on that county's population.

This amounts to approximately ten cents per wireless customer.

As anyone can tell, this alone is taking us farther and farther toward our demise.

Second, when E-911 was turned on in 1998, due to the limited funding we were co-located with the City of Luverne.

This combining of resources provided 911 with extra personnel at no additional cost.

This situation worked quite well for several years, but unexpected changes forced Crenshaw County E-911 to relocate and become a separate entity and to comply with the law under which it was created in the first place.

This relocation of E-911 and the additional staffing automatically put 911 into a deficit that seems impossible to overcome with our current revenue.

In my opinion, as director for the past 10 years, I feel that perhaps the most important service that is being provided to the county as a whole is that being provided by 911.

This problem must be solved by the citizens of Crenshaw County.

When we split from the City of Luverne, our county commissioners were presented with budget after budget (revised for different scenarios) stating the financial hardship we would be facing down the road.

The Commission promised at least $100,000 over this year to balance the budget.

As of now, we have received approximately $45,000 and have been told there will be no more for 911.

It is time to make that call, not to 911, but to your elected officials who are responsible for this situation.

We must realize that the shortage of funds affects everything in our daily activities.

We are not only becoming unable to provide the services we want to, but we are also unable to provide the quality of services that are required by law.

There is always talk about county development, which is what we must do to survive, but contrary to what some believe, I feel that E-911 has been the major driving force toward the development of the county, but do we move forward or do we turn around?

The decision rests with the citizens of this county; make it a good one for all of our sakes.

Ben Pynes

E-911 Director

Luverne, Ala.