Danville puts out draft ‘service agreement’ for 911 service

With Boyle County moving forward on plans to go out-of-county for 911 service, it’s unclear what the future of local dispatch looks like. But if the county and/or other cities in Boyle decide to continue using Danville for their 911 dispatching services, the city has provided a draft service agreement that officials say is a “building block” to formalizing 911 arrangements in the county.

The draft document was presented by City Manager Ron Scott and City Attorney Stephen Dexter at this week’s city commission meeting. It was also given to Boyle County magistrates Tuesday morning, prior to the fiscal court’s 5-2 vote to formally pursue a 911 merger with Bluegrass 911 in Garrard County.

Dexter told city commissioners Monday the draft attempts to “alleviate the concerns that have been raised through” the recent months-long public debate over 911 services between the city and the county. The service agreement would spell out what each entity that wants to use Danville’s 911 dispatch center would need to pay, and it would create a formal grievance process by which first responders and other governments could file a grievance when they feel 911 operated improperly, Dexter said.

Currently, there is no grievance process and so there is no way for people with complaints to voice them appropriately. As a result, complaints spread by word of mouth and the city can’t properly address them, Dexter said.

“It’s hard to investigate street talk,” he said.

The proposed service agreement also spells out that Danville will implement emergency medical dispatch services as quickly as possible, Dexter said. EMD service allows dispatchers to provide instructions for medical procedures such as CPR to callers so they can assist people who are having emergencies.

The draft also addresses a pair of major sticking points that the city and county disagree about: a reserve of about $700,000 in 911-earmarked funds that Boyle County currently holds; and the “public service answering point” (PSAP) license that allows Danville’s call center to operate.

The document states that “the (Danville) call center is an integral part of the city and is the certified entity operating the public service answering point.”

Boyle County officials have not agreed with city officials on who owns the PSAP license, and Boyle County is now planning to attempt to do away with the existing PSAP license in order to gain a $200,000 grant from the state.

At Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting, Boyle County Treasurer Mary Conley said the PSAP was originally certified by Boyle’s treasurer and 911 coordinator. Additionally, the state distributes 911 cell-phone revenues to the holder of the PSAP, and Boyle County currently receives those funds on a quarterly basis from the state, Conley said.

“There is some question about who actually is the PSAP owner, because the funds come to Boyle County Fiscal Court,” Conley said.

With approval from the state that Boyle County is indeed the owner, the fiscal court could then merge the PSAP license with Bluegrass 911 and access the $200,000 grant, she explained.

Dexter disputed Conley’s assessment at the meeting.

“The city is the certified (PSAP), with the county serving as the fiscal agent,” Dexter said, explaining the city’s stance on the matter.

The draft service agreement also states that having the county serve as “fiscal agent” for the city and allowing the county to hold the approximately $700,000 in reserve “has led to inefficiencies in process.” It includes a clause that Boyle County “will transfer all reserved funds to the city and hereafter act as a pass-through entity that immediately passes any (911-earmarked funds) to the city without holding any funds in reserve.”

Conley has previously said she does not intend to transfer any of the reserve funds to Danville outside of the normal invoicing process until an interlocal agreement is in place.

The draft service agreement states that Boyle County would pay Danville for 911 service an amount “equal to (the) annual budget developed by the city for the call center multiplied by the percentage (of) its population outside the corporate limits of the city.” It does not specify how much that amount would be, nor does it set minimum or maximum amounts the county could owe.

The service agreement also lays out the basics of an “advisory committee” made up of representatives from local first-responder agencies. The advisory committee would “discuss” the 911 budget, operational issues, technical issues and grievances.

Magistrate Jack Hendricks said Tuesday that while he knows the draft agreement is just “a building block,” “there’s no way I could agree to that agreement the way it’s written right now.”

Dexter said he isn’t advocating for acceptance of the agreement in its current form; the city just wanted to create a document as a jumping-off point to get the conversation started.

“I don’t think you can have fruitful discussions and reconciliation until somebody puts something out there to be debated and honed,” Dexter said. “Somebody had to write the first draft of the U.S. Constitution, and it was ripped apart. And we’ve ended up with a final document that lasts. So I put myself out there, gave you a draft. Let’s have debate. Should you choose to continue services in the City of Danville in a cooperative center, then let’s debate how that looks and how those concerns are addressed.

“I would caution you from the draft agreement being a stumbling block to continuing with the city’s 911 center.”