The Benton City Council and Mayor Rita Dotson are letting their voices be known concerning the recent discussions regarding the Marshall County 911 and radio systems in the county. The council approved an E-911 resolution at its September 21 meeting requesting the re-reinstatement of a 911 board by the Marshall County Fiscal Court.
Until 2017, a 911 board had been in place with a representative from all three cities, the ambulance service, rescue squad and fire districts. This board governed the daily operations 911. The 911 department is now solely operated by E-911 Director Chris Freeman and the fiscal court.
For several years, local law enforcement officers have expressed their concern over failing radios in the Marshall County 911 system and what harm the lack of communication could potentially cause. In August, Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire presented a petition to the fiscal court signed by over 150 first responders and their family members citing “no confidence” in Freeman.
The petition lists a variety of reasons, including the dangerous and unreliable radio communications network, devastated relationships with the Kentucky State Police and surrounding county agencies, limited to no discussion with department heads concerning communication issues, commandeering radio systems without discussions from agencies involved, and unreasonably high spending on unnecessary projects despite the need for safe and reliable radio communications.
Dotson and the city council agree they should be involved considering the general fund of the fiscal court receives revenues from the City of Benton. The general fund collects 1% payroll tax from every person that works in the city limits of Benton as well as a portion of real and personal property taxes. According to Dotson, Marshall County is one of only six counties in the state that was grandfathered in allowing the county to collect taxes from city revenues.
“So there was representation so that we all knew what was going on and what was being done in 911. We do not have that advantage anymore,” said Dotson. “Basically all we are asking for is a seat at the table. That’s all we are asking for, no controversy. Just a seat at the table.”
McGuire and District 2 Commissioner Kevin Spraggs were also in attendance at the meeting.
The council also:
- Heard a citizen’s concern from Scott Jones regarding water runoffs on properties near the Benton Country Club.
Approved proclamations for 2020 Family Week and Disabled Veterans Assoc.
- Held a first reading on two ordinances regarding zoning changes.
- Held a second reading and approved the revenue and taxation ordinance. The city levied 22.1 cents on each $100 value of real property and 31.47 cents on each $100 value of personal property exclusive of motor vehicles.
- Approved routine general fund budget amendments.
- Approved the increase in mowing fines to $100 per acre and $250 for bush hogging.
- And, heard the August police department report from Chief Stephen Sanderson that included 903 calls, issuing 28 tickets and opening 10 cases.