While the Marshall County Fiscal Court awaits the resolve of pending litigation in a federal court with local electric companies for imposing a fee which is scheduled to support a $1.9 million annual Marshall County E-911 budget, a top communications official with Kentucky State Police said the county could consolidate with the regional facility at Post 1 and spend approximately a quarter of that amount annually.
KSP 911 Business and Financial Manager Kevin Woosley said the last request for proposal he received from Marshall County was conducted at the request of Marshall County Deputy Judge-Executive Brad Warning. In June 2016, he reported, the amount was $450,000 annually for KSP Post 1 to provide comprehensive dispatching services for all of Marshall County's first responders, and included the costs of staff and technology.
KSP Post 1 communications center, which is a regional PSAP, is currently operating on a $1.5 million annual budget. Woosley noted that number is only for the communications center of Post 1, not the entire post.
Woosley reported KSP Post 1 dispatches for 48 agencies across their 11-county footprint and employs 22 full-time dispatchers, two part-time dispatchers and one interim dispatch position. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, Post 1 answered 28,791 911 calls and during that same time period received 443,782 administrative calls. He said the staff at Post 1 also handled more than 70,000 separate events during that fiscal year.
Woosley said KSP has several "mobile command units" which can be utilized during a long-term event that are fully equipped to handle any on-scene communications needs. But he said KSP doesn't use the term, "tactical unit," as it relates to telecommunications "because the safety and security of the scene is the responsibility of sworn law enforcement."
If Marshall County were to agree to consolidate with Post 1, Woosley explained, there would be an initial cost to both agencies which would include the purchase of additional base radios and additional work stations inside the communications center at Post 1.
"We would be eligible to apply for a KY 9-1-1 Services Board Consolidation Grant in the amount of up to $200,000 apiece to assist with the purchase of this equipment," he said. "After the consolidation has been completed, we would enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Marshall County Fiscal Court that would outline our expectations and the agreed upon amount."
If the amount were to remain the same as the previous offer of $450,000 annually, Woosley added, Marshall County would be billed quarterly for $112,500 and that amount would not increase during the length of the MOU, which is typically a two-year agreement. He said there would be no other fees outside of what's agreed upon in the MOU.
Woosley said each county or city which has consolidated with KSP, as part of the standard MOU process, creates a local 911 advisory board. He said the makeup of the board is outlined in the MOU and its members are typically representatives of the first responder community and local government officials within the county.
Woosley said KSP currently has 16 PSAP locations across Kentucky which offer comprehensive dispatching services for 22 counties/cities.
"We have saved those 22 communities hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. That's money that can be used to put additional resources back into the community," he said. "As an agency, we handle thousands of calls a day and dispatch for more than 300 separate agencies. We feel that all of our agencies having the ability to communicate through one central point allows the efficient flow of information between each of our agencies and allows first responders the ability to communicate with other agencies within the same post area."
"In the case of Marshall County, it would allow the first responders in Marshall County to be able to communicate with KSP or other first responders in the surrounding counties," he added. "And, the residents and the first responders of Marshall County would continue to have excellent 9-1-1 services and Marshall County would know what their absolute expenses for this service would be with this consolidation."
Last month, the Marshall County Fiscal Court in a split vote passed the second reading of the updated county ordinance designed to impose a $7 monthly fee on electric boxes which would fund a $1.9 million annual budget for Marshall County E-911. Commissioner Kevin Spraggs has cast the sole vote in opposition for the monthly fee and the annual budget which he called "excessive." All three other voting members cast votes in favor of both the fee and the annual budget.
But the county remains unable to collect the fee as the federal judge presiding over the lawsuit filed by West Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation (WKRECC) and Jackson Purchase Energy Corporation (JPEC) against the fiscal court ordered no enforcement of the fee, pending further action by the court.
The agreed order entered by Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell with the U.S. District Court Western District of Kentucky in Paducah on Sept. 27 remains the most recent action in the lawsuit case.
The suit was filed on Sept. 4 by Edward T. Depp and R. Brooks Herrick of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP of Louisville, representing both WKRECC and JPEC, taking a number of issues with the ordinance imposing the $7 monthly fee on electric bills to fund Marshall County 911. The attorneys contend the ordinance violates the United States Constitution and the Kentucky Constitution, is unenforceable due to being vague and uncertain and impermissibly infringes upon the regulator authority of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC).