911 Board approves budget

Blount County 911 Director Neal Brooks presented a 2020 budget of $1,538,252 to the Blount County 911 board, which was approved at their last scheduled meeting. Brooks explained that the budget, while projecting larger expenses, does show a net positive for the year.

He said repair/maintenance, signage, and $85,000 in capital projects pushed the budget up. Also included is a 50 cents-per-hour across the board pay increase along with an 8 percent increase in health insurance costs that were factored in.

In other action the board approved a “roll over” of a maturing CD which will save $229,000 and cut the number of payments on the principle of the building loan by making a one time payment of $213,854.

Brooks also requested the hiring of a system administrator/communications specialist from the employees the board already has. He said the individual would serve as an “everyday tech person, trouble shooter” and would work only part time, two or three days per week. Blount County Sheriff Mark Moon made the motion to hire a dispatcher to serve the dual role and the board approved.

The board approved having an outdoor sign made and placed on the building. Brooks said there are many who do not know the location of the building or how to find the front door.

Elections were held for new 2020 board officers. They are: chairman, Brandon Horton; vice-chairman, Dean Gilbert; and secretary/treasurer, Caleb Branch.

In other discussions, Brooks said the facility needs about 10 part-time employees for the call center with an ideal goal of three full-time dispatchers and one call taker. “We’ve hired seven for the call center and there are four remaining” he added. No action was taken on the update.

Board members also discussed recent meetings with Blount EMS with Branch noting, “The EMS is meeting contract requirements and we are in much better shape than in 2016 when we had only one ambulance to serve the county.”

Branch, Horton, and Brooks all explained the need for better clarification concerning the receiving and dispatching of emergency calls. “There are some gray areas that need to be clarified” Horton added. He explained that 911 is not willing to take on customer service and billing.