Richmond’s 911 board met Friday to do some final fact gathering before Interim City Manager Jimmy Howard addresses the city commission about the idea of consolidating the city’s 911 dispatch service with the E-911 system, which includes Berea and Madison County.

“Tuesday at noon, we’ll present the facts as we know them to the city commission,” Howard said.

There will not be a meeting agenda item addressing the issue, unless a commissioner decides during the meeting to make a motion that the commission come to a vote on the matter, Howard said.

Richmond is one of 12 second-class cities in the state, and 10 already have merged.

Owensboro plans to merge its 911 dispatch with the county’s in July of next year “... so that just leaves Richmond,” Howard said.

Howard took it upon himself to send a list of questions to each of Kentucky’s second-class cities about their consolidated 911 systems, and as of Friday, only a few cities had responded.

All responses received spoke highly of the merging process and the good quality of service that was a result of the merger.

Sandy Ott Ashland of the Regional Public Safety Communications Center in Ashland was asked by Howard: With the knowledge you have now, would you still merge?

“Yes,” Ott replied. “This service has worked well over the years. There have been growing pains and power struggles, but the benefit has been better service to our community.”

Richmond Fire Chief Gerald Tatum said it would be safer to have all dispatching entities in one building to prevent duplications that could not only be dangerous to police and fire workers, but also dangerous to the public.

“If we have a wreck on the interstate ... EMS will get a call that it’s at the 90 (mile marker) and we get the call that it’s at the 89 (mile marker),” Tatum said. “EMS may already be there loading a patient when all of us pull up.”

When fire, police and EMS are dispatched to the same scene, that means all three entities are running emergency traffic, traveling at high speeds with sirens.

“Not only does it put our people who are in the vehicles in danger, it puts everybody we’ve passed in danger,” Tatum said. “We’ve been running emergency traffic to something that’s already been taken care of. With everybody in one room, everybody’s getting the same information.”

It previously was reported that the city would have to pay a start-up fee of $150,000 upon consolidation with the E-911 board, but at Friday’s meeting of the city’s 911 board, it was determined that the city also would have to pay $53,527.60 in payouts that includes current city dispatchers’ gross pay and benefits. This figure is based on calculations totaled as of Friday. The numbers will increase the longer each dispatcher remains employed by the city of Richmond.

Aside from the dispatchers’ gross pay, this amount also includes payments of pension, Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and workman’s compensation.

The city has 11 working 911 dispatchers, and the E-911 system has enough room to take nine of those employees.

The city’s 911 board did not make any recommendations Friday as to what would be done with the remaining two employees.

Howard said the commission basically had two options: Either find another place in the city to utilize them, or lay them off from the city’s workforce.

An interlocal cooperation agreement was created in May of 2007 that included all current entities of the E-911 system, including the Madison County Fiscal Court, City of Berea, Kentucky State Police, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and the Madison County Coroner.

Madison County Emergency Medical Services Director Carlos Coyle did not attend Friday’s meeting in person, but later joined via telephone to help answer a few questions from the city’s 911 board.

Commissioner Robert Blythe asked Coyle a question regarding the implementation of consolidation, being that the commission voted in favor of the idea.

Coyle said the biggest issue with Richmond’s consolidation would be money.

“We couldn’t merge before we were absolutely collecting the $3.50 (land line phone tax that recently was raised by the commission from 83 cents to $3.50), unless Richmond can subsidize that money (until the $3.50 tax begins to be collected),” Coyle said.

Commission Rita Smart said she previously was told that collecting the new tax rate could take up to three months.

“If we don’ have that money that we’re counting on to make the budget work, I think that would put us at a deficit at that time,” Coyle said. “That would be my only concern.”

As far as moving Richmond’s 911 dispatching equipment into the E-911 center, “... we could do that within a few weeks,” Coyle said.

The interlocal agreement would need to be re-written or simply amended to include Richmond, he said.

The next meeting of the Richmond City Commission is scheduled for noon Tuesday, Dec. 22 at city hall.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at or 624-6608.

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