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Police captain named interim E911 director

BY CARRIE DILLARD cdillard@paducahsun.com

The Paducah-McCracken County E911 Emergency Communications Services Board wants more information before it makes decisions about the future of the dispatch center.

To gather data on policy, staffing, and ways to build revenue, Paducah Police Chief Brandon Barnhill, a member of the board, submitted a proposal to devote one of his employees to research and data collection.

Capt. David White will be temporarily detailed to the E911 Center starting today.

White's title will be interim director, but he will be solely responsible for data analysis. Brent Stringer, interim director since September, will continue to oversee day-to-day operations as assistant director.

According to Barnhill, there was a policy and procedure report presented to the board some 10 months ago, and the board has failed to act on it.

"We need answers on policy, funding streams, personnel and staffing," said Barnhill. "We need to run these answers to the ground."

This move will also help improve communication between board members and the staff, he said.

"We want no hidden communication here," Barnhill said.

McCracken County Sheriff Jon Hayden, who also serves on the E911 board, agreed.

"They (dispatchers) aren't being kept up to speed with things that affect them," Hayden said. "We need to do a better job."

The board heard a presentation Tuesday regarding the possibility of contracting with the state police for dispatching services. This is one of several alternatives the board is considering in light of revenue shortfalls.

The center's 2015 operating budget is $1.6 million. According to Stringer, the center expects to bring in approximately $420,000 in landline phone fees and $220,000 in wireless phone fees within the next fiscal year.

The declining use of landline phones is the major contributor to the revenue woes, Stringer noted.

"The majority of people have cell phones. Landline fees are $1.50 a month; wireless fees are about 39 cents. Each time a person abandons their landline phone in lieu of a cell phone, we are losing $1.11 per month," he said.

To offset the losses, the city of Paducah and McCracken County, which co-own the E911 center, each contribute based on the number of calls in their service area.

The county's contribution for the 2015 budget is $430,000; the city's contribution is approximately $568,900.

By looking for other funding, the E911 board hopes to relieve the burden on the city and county. One alternative is a per-parcel property tax, similar to taxes levied in Kenton and Campbell counties in northern Kentucky.

According to an earlier board study, Kenton County enacted an $80 per parcel tax and Campbell enacted a $45 per parcel tax to support the county's E911 operations.

Based on the number of electric meters from Jackson Purchase Energy and Paducah Power, Barnhill estimated that McCracken County could bring in $1.5 million based on the Campbell model and $2.6 million based on the Kenton model, which would fund the whole budget with a surplus.

The board is also seeking a cost estimate from the Kentucky State Police.

Currently, the state police service Lyon County, and Graves County Sheriff's Department and fire calls, and are in the process of taking on dispatching duties for Mayfield.

Contact Carrie Dillard, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.

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