Supervisors Want New Radio System On-Line

Right now only Gulfport Police and Fire Departments are hooked up to the 800 hundred radio system. It allows officers and firefighters from all the departments to talk to each other.

The supervisors say communication is a necessity, and they told the E-911 commission to buy 1,200 radios for the other agencies to go on-line.

"I think it's a matter of setting priorities is what we're saying. What are we prioritizing or how are we prioritizing the expenditure of these funds," Supervisors' President Marlin Ladner said.

The E-911 Commission isn't sure where the $5.8 million will come from to pay for the new radios. Chairperson Steve Delahousey says part of the money could come from a $10 assessment fee the legislature allows to be tacked onto traffic tickets. But, he says only Harrison County, Pass Christian and Gulfport are collecting that money.

The E-911 commission plans to build a central dispatch system at Highways 49 and 53. The board says instead, a base system and dispatchers can be temporarily set up in the courthouse near the sheriff's dispatch center. That interim plan will cost $18.8 million.

"With the $15 million you have borrowed and the existing revenue that we are generating on the one dollar assessment on residential lines and two dollars for commercial lines, there is enough money to implement this interim plan," Delahousey said.

No one knows how long the interim plan will last, because the supervisors say no one can tell them how much the yearly costs will be once the system is up and running in a permanent location.

"It has to be on an interim basis cause we don't have all this other money for this building and all this other stuff so we're gonna have to run on an interim plan. What I'm asking for is what are those costs gonna be per year," District 2 Supervisor Larry Benefield said.

Delahousey responded saying, "Annual recurring costs? No sir we do not have that. That's what we need."

The board wants a timeline and a cost analysis of the whole radio system, so the supervisors also instructed the commission to hire a consultant or accountant to come up with some numbers.

The supervisors also voted, 3-2, to reduce the number of E-911 commissioners. Right now there are 17. By July first there will be seven. Five will be appointed by the supervisors, one will be a sheriff's representative and one will be an Emergency Medical Services appointee.