LAWRENCE Co., Mo. An important ballot measure concerning emergency dispatch services will be on the April 2nd ballot in Lawrence County.
The ballot measure replaces 911 surcharge with sales tax.
The reason this measure is on the ballot is that Lawrence County needs an alternative income source to pay for emergency services if they want to continue to have it.
“It’s not just 911,” explained Bob Senninger, presiding commissioner of Lawrence County, “it’s a complete dispatch for the entire town. So 911 plus all the fire, ambulance, sheriff, police departments.”
Senninger said currently, emergency services are contracted with the city of Monett, “we need funding to pay for it. Because when we contract with Monett, it’s going to cost us about $520,000 to contract with Monett. The county just doesn’t have that kind of money.”
Right now, funding for this contract is paid for through landline tariffs.
“It’s kind of running out because people are not using landlines as much,” said Senninger, “so right now, this past year, the landline tariff paid for about one-fifth of the total cost.”
So if the people vote no on this issue, Senninger said the county will still keep up the contract with Monett to some degree, “it may not be as complete as it is right now. Because right now, they completely dispatch everything.”
He said the service will be diminished, “they’ll still answer 911 calls. They’ll still dispatch the main fire, ambulance, but the enhanced part of it will probably not happen.”
Senninger thinks it’s a good way to fund the service, “because even people who pass through the county, use our restaurants, gas stations, that sort of thing, will participate in paying.”
If the ballot measure passes, the commission appoints a seven-member board to take over the 911 responsibilities.
“And so the funding would go directly go to their charge,” Senninger said, “they will decide how to spend the money.”
And if the ballot measure passes, they won’t receive any money until about six months, and the funding won’t be enough until about three to four years later.