911, EMA planning merger

Published 6:00 am Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pike County 911 and the Pike County EMA may soon merge to share costs.

Chris Dozier, 911 director, and Herbert Reeves, interim EMA director, updated the commission Monday on the merger process during a tentative budget proposal for the combined department.

The 911 board is not funded by the county while the EMA is currently a county agency.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Merging the two agencies would give more stakeholders a say in the EMA, commissioners said, and they could also assist in funding.

“We wanted to try and go in a different direction where we didn’t just have one person that reports to the Pike County Commission because this person actually serves everybody­ first responders need to have an input in who we have,” said Chairman Robin Sullivan at the Sept. 7 2017 meeting . “They will serve not just the commission, but other entities as well. We don’t need one person that’s good for the city or the university, but that’s good for all of those things.”

For example, the county has committed approximately $10,000 a year to the EMA for tornado siren maintenance, but that line item was removed from this year’s proposal. Instead, Dozier said the board would discuss what to do with the sirens and then bring it forward to the commissioner as a one-time project.

Similarly, the renovation of the 911 building to house EMA would be brought before the commission as a separate project.

“This is based on feedback from the commission,” Dozier said. “This way, we can present the costs and the stakeholders can say ‘Hey, we can put this amount toward the cost.’”

While the county is working toward shifting to the merged approach, the budget for the organization has actually increased, at least in the first proposal, and commissioners are working to see if it is even possible to provide more funds to the agency.

“We’re not necessarily looking for a cost savings, but we know that we can’t cover much difference,” said Chad Copeland, District 4 commissioner. “We have to look at, here’s what we’ve got to spend and how can we meet our limit? That’s why we wanted to get some other people involved; we were about at our max last year.”

Dozier said the budget is still not finalized as he and Reeves are still speaking with stakeholders about how to make the transition to share costs among the 911 board and EMA.