Commissioners approve 911 contract


It was made official on Thursday.
The Perry County Commission made final approval of a contract for dispatch services with St. Francios County Joint Communication Center 911 in front of several Perry County residents.
Although the issue of keeping 911 local has been a controversial topic in recent months, Perry County Presiding Commissioner Mike Sauer believes the move is good for the area.
“We have to have dispatch,” Sauer said. “What we believe that we have found is a better service for a cheaper rate in St. Francois County.”
So what’s next?
Current and former dispatchers, as well as emergency responders and law enforcement are part of the drive to keep 911 in the county.
After speaking against the move in October to the Perryville Board of Aldermen, Perry County residents have since signed a petition in January to create a ballot initiative — which would include a new half-cent tax — Sauer said that there is a buyout clause in the contract in case the sales tax passes.
There was some confusion among those in attendance about what exactly the sale tax actually pays for.
“The sales tax pays for 911 dispatch,” Sauer said. “The Justice Center tax that was previously passed pays for the building. This is a whole separate tax. We couldn’t put multiple taxes together when we did the building. That’s where a lot of people get confused. They thought when they voted on a tax for the building, they voted on a tax for everything and that is not the case.”
If the tax passes, there will be a board of directors created and members will be appointed by the Perry County Commission. Then once they are picked, members will be elected.
“It will be just like the Health Board or a School Board,” Sauer said.

There have been several communities in the surrounding area that have went through a similar situation.
Ste. Genevieve County itself is very familiar with the matter, being in this very situation in 2010.
That was when Ste. Genevieve County saw its local emergency dispatch center moved to the St. Francois County 911 Emergency Communications facility — located in the town of Park Hills (formerly Flat River) — dispatching for all police, fire and EMS (ambulances) services. The move became final in 2011.
The center is now known as the Alan Wells/St. Francois County Joint Communication and Emergency Operations Center.
One of the main sticking points for the switch for Ste. Genevieve County was the fast moving upgrades in technology. With the old landline phones going by the wayside, the massive use of cellular phones as the main type of communications for citizens created a tremendous problem for the old 911 system.
The Park Hills-based center is the first pilot program in the nation to use Next Generation 911 technology by Altos, an international company, thus allowing those in distress to call and now text information via cell phones.
And the system now can pinpoint the individual’s cell-phone location.
The old system could not receive texts, Wells said in an older interview.
Well’s idea of a joint 911 service between the two counties sparked numerous other counties to copy it.
However, counties in the Show-Me State did not have much choice anyway.
It was mentioned that Missouri kept reminding its counties that the state was not going to help individual counties and cities until they consolidate their 911 systems.
If the tax does not pass in Perry County, the Commission will continue with the current contract.