Sardis Dispatch

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 9, 2012

Sardis joins in dispatch

By Rupert Howell

The City of Sardis will go to a central dispatch with Panola County following Tuesday’s November meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen.

Aldermen have hinted about a change in open meetings but were ready to vote to proceed with the central system at Tuesday’s meet.

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The proposal discussed Tuesday night will have the city paying $45,000 yearly for the service for the next five years.

Panola County Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Cole made the proposal as dispatch is handled through his department and has a separate building located near Panola County’s Jail.

Sardis began looking at the proposal seriously after the City of Como dropped Sardis as their dispatch provider in favor of Panola County. That meant Sardis losing approximately $3,000 monthly income from their budget.

Sardis City Clerk Mary McDowell estimated that the city is spending $110,000 yearly on dispatch services.

Funding for equipment comes through phone bills according to Cole who said resident lines are charged $1 per month, business lines $2 and cell phone $.70.

Mayor Rusty Dye Tuesday initially questioned the move but it was soon obvious that aldermen were going another direction.

Also SPD Chief John Deal expressed concern about staff currently employed as dispatchers telling the board that he had two full-time and four part-time employees. Deal said he was not against central dispatch, but concerned about employees.

Cole said the E-911 may have at least part-time positions for staff displaced because of the change, but was hesitant to assure them employment saying that would be a function of the board.

Alderman and Vice-Mayor Roy Scallorn, who will be the Sardis voting representative, told board members that an emergency operation center capability would be retained in Sardis in case of emergency.

A former dispatcher himself, the alderman-at-large had formerly been reluctant for the City to use the centralized system. He explained that the addition of a 911 board now gave Sardis, “a seat at the table.”
He also noted that mandated upgrades coming within the next few years would cost an approximate $150,000, upgrades that will now be the responsibility of E-911.

Sardis was given two seats on the E-911 board, one voting member and one non-voting member, who will set policy and run the dispatch service. City Clerk McDowell will be the non-voting member.

The seven-member board would have five voting members with Panola County Sheriff’s office having the other non-voting member. Two voting members will come from the public, and one each from the board of supervisors, E-911 and the City of Sardis.

Cole told aldermen that Panola Supervisors had agreed to the E-911 board in a meeting the day prior. He said later that details including an inter-local agreement between the city and county would have to be worked out before being submitted to the Secretary of State for approval while estimating the change not taking place until after the first of the year at the earliest.

Four aldermen voted in favor of joining the E-911 central dispatch with Scallorn abstaining.