EFFINGHAM — The second time was the charm for Effingham County Board members Monday.
One month after a tie vote killed a proposed intergovernmental agreement between the county, Effingham city and the county's Emergency Telephone System (911) board, the county board voted to approve the agreement. Under the terms, 911 will pay the county $65,000 next year, followed by $85,000 and $86,700, respectively, the next two years.
The 911 board has paid the county and city $65,000 per year for use of its facilities as emergency dispatch centers since 911 went online in 1997. While 911 was originally asked to increase the annual payment to $85,000 next year, 911 board members have asked to pay the same amount as in the past - and use the difference to fund an "efficiency study" that will include a look at consolidation.
Norbert Soltwedel, a 911 board member who chairs the study committee, told the county board Monday that the study would be used to answer a number of questions, including whether the city and county dispatch centers could be consolidated.
Other study topics, Soltwedel said, include the search for additional funding, optimal technology, long-term strategy and non-emergency services being provided by 911 operators.
"We want the study to answer a lot of questions that have come from the public," Soltwedel said. "There's just a lot of opinions that we need third party input on."
Soltwedel said the committee hopes to complete the request for proposal by next March and open bids by June. He said his committee was using an RFP prepared by Effingham city officials earlier this year as a guide.
Board member Rob Arnold, who voted against the previous intergovernmental agreement, said the proposed study seems to be more inclusive than the city proposal.
"The scope of what you want to say is larger than the previous study," Arnold said.