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911 Funding Shortage Continues To Be Issue



Concerns are still high about the future of area 911 operations.

Alan Wells, director of the 911 joint communications Center in Desloge, Deputy Director Chuck Farr, Sheriff Gary Stolzer, Kendall Shrum, executive director of the Ste. Genevieve County Ambulance District, and Ste. Genevieve City Administrator Happy Welch all attended the Monday, Oct. 24 county commission meeting to discuss the situation.

Wells said he was working on the next year’s budget for the center, which covers both St. Francois and Ste. Genevieve counties. He said he did not expect Ste. Genevieve County’s bill to go up in the next year.

However, that could change whenever Phase II and Phase III of the center’s overall plan for updating its system is put in place.

The plan is to recommend P-25 digital with simulcast capabilities. No other entities, though, would be forced to change their mobile and portable equipment, allowing those short on money to continue operating “as is” for now.

The bulk of the two counties’ 911 funds come from fees on land line usage.  However, as Presiding Commissioner Garry Nelson noted at the Thursday meeting, the land line revenues for the county have dipped from $450,000 to $500,000 when the fees began, to only about $100,000 a year today.

“That doesn’t even pay the service charge to St. Francois County,” he said.

It may be time to look at a monthly fee for any personal devices capable of calling 911.

Nelson said a $1 to $1.50 per month fee could be leveed for each such device (cell phones, I-pads, etc.) at a residence. Of course, any such fee would have to be voted on by the public.

The commissioners agreed that it may be necessary to see about getting such a proposal on the April 2023 ballot. He will consult an attorney about wording for such a proposition.