Houston is asking to renegotiate its 911 contract with Chickasaw County, as well it should.
Houston is the only municipality in the county that is paying to support this vital communication service to everyone who pays a phone bill. And Houston taxpayers are supporting the county’s 911 system to the tune of $100,000 a year.
Okolona, Houlka and Woodland pay nothing.
Yes, those three communities have a different dispatching system and probably should have a different payment level than Houston.
In Okolona the fire department handles most of the dispatching duties for city police, the Okolona Electric Department and city water and street departments. In Houlka and Woodland they handle dispatching needs with a phone call.
Houston aldermen entered a contract with Chickasaw County Supervisors a little over two years ago and agreed to handle dispatching duties for the city for a fee. The county also hired City of Houston dispatchers at that time.
Terms of the contract called for Houston and Chickasaw County to sit down every two years and review the agreement.
It is time to do something different.
Dispatching is a critical component to emergency services whether it is police, fire, dog catcher or city utilities. Getting help and getting trained personnel on the scene to make the world a little safer is the first job of government.
The idea of an Okolona police officer radioing for help and met with dead silence is not good city policy. The idea of any taxpayer in Woodland, Houlka, Okolona or Houston calling for help and not getting it should concern us all.
This newspaper hopes residents and leaders of Okolona, Houlka and Woodland don’t take this opportunity to just fight for their spot of ground.
We hope county officials use this opportunity to take a long hard look at what they need to manage a county-wide 911 system that is professionally trained and able to answer the phones 24/7.
We hope Houston realizes they need to pay their fair share.
Now is the time to revamp our Chickasaw County 911 system. Let’s work together and get it done before someone calls for help and doesn’t get it.