County, city officials talk about timeline for new 911 center

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | 6:40 p.m. CDT; updated 11:13 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

COLUMBIA — Boone County officials hope to find a company later this year that can help them hire a project manager to oversee the transition to a new 911 facility.

Officials from Public Safety Joint Communications, city and county government and representatives from the agencies that use the 911 facility met as a committee Wednesday to discuss how a project manager could help organize the management of a new facility.


 Draft 2013 goals:

  • Issue request for proposal for a 911 Public Safety Joint Communications consultant and project manager by September.
  • Hire five full-time employees by November.
  • Hire a full-time trainer by November.
  • Hire a 911/joint communications director position or interim director by August.
  • Switch current city employees to county employment from June to November 2015.
  • Establish a hiring schedule for all positions within the two new departments from September to July 2014.
  • Decide when to end the land-line tariff from October to April 2014.
  • Hire another five full-time call-takers from November to June 2014.

Draft 2015 goals:

  • Hire five more call-takers from January to August 2015.
  • Make the transition to the 911/emergency management facility in October 2015.
  • All 911/Joint Communication and Emergency Management employees transition to county technology starting in October 2015.
  • Start permanent board appointment process and structure starting in October 2015.

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Boone County Commissioner Dan Atwill said the point is to seek out a company that specializes in organizing 911 centers to hire a project manager. This person would work with the agencies and the Boone County Commission in managing the facility.

Atwill said he would like to see the new center's operations work cohesively when the project is completed. He said he doesn't think anyone involved — whether 911  and emergency management employees or government officials — has sufficient knowledge of what would be needed for a facility of this magnitude.

"None of us have built one of these things," Atwill said. "This is a massive operation in terms of organization. (A project manager) can give us the details, the nitty-gritty."

The Boone County 911 sales tax, or Proposition #1, was approved to pay for construction of the 911 center by Boone County voters at the beginning of April, according to a previous Missourian article. The three-eighths-cent sales tax is estimated to generate $9.3 million per year and will take effect in October.

Boone County Treasurer Nicole Galloway presented a draft timeline of what the joint communications committee hopes to accomplish, along with an organizational chart detailing the management transition. According to the chart, the project manager and consultant would work with specialized committee members on information technology, radio and construction items.

After the county signs an agreement with a project manager, he or she would help develop requests and proposals for builders and architects. Atwill said this could include everything from generators to paper clips.

"Remember, you're going to get what you ask for," Atwill said. "We want to make sure that the product works in our system."

Currently, five of the 13 agencies that use the facility, along with the city and county governments, pay into the joint communications and emergency management operations. These agencies will stop paying at the end of 2013.

City Manager Mike Matthes said the city can afford to carry the operations for the first three months of fiscal 2014, which starts Oct. 1. By January, the city would be in deficit, so if it continued to pay into the operations, it would send the bill only to the county, excluding the five user agencies who pay in now.

There will be future conversations about how to switch city workers in 911 and emergency management to county employment and about hiring new directors of those operations, Atwill said. 

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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