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Vernon County 911 Dispatch Center Seeks Stable Funding by Half C - KOAM TV 7

Vernon County 911 Dispatch Center Seeks Stable Funding by Half Cent Sales Tax Increase

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VERNON COUNTY, MISSOURI -

In an emergency every second counts, and so does funding.

"We need adequate funding so that we're able to keep up with the fast paced changing technology. And without the technology it makes it difficult to provide the emergency services needed,” says Western Missouri 911 Executive Director Tonia Davis.

Services like text-to-911, geolocation to pinpoint callers whereabouts, and the ability to give callers medical instructions over the phone.

Currently there are only two dispatchers receiving calls from twelve agencies.

What the first responders tell us is that frequently they're calling in trying to relay or get critical information and they're being told to stand by  because the dispatchers are simply overwhelmed, “ says J.D. Kehrman, 911 Board of Directors Chair and Nevada City Manager.

The half cent sales tax increase would not only provide funding for more employees and equipment upgrades, but would help to make the 911 call center self-sufficient.   

"It's also important that 911 be independent. Right now the board is made up of the city and the county and the ambulance district. So you got three political entities trying to cooperate and operate a center. And in reality that center needs to be completely free from political interference and it needs to be a standalone organization,” says Kehrman.

We talked with Vernon County residents to get their opinion on the ballot issue.

"I will vote for it because I think it's crucial to making the county better,” says Milo Resident Penne Moore.

Vernon County resident Vicki Kidd says, “I used to be a dispatcher. And it's important for the police to be able to get to you when you need 'em.”

We did speak to a couple of business owners who wouldn't go on camera, but said they would vote no because they are tired of tax increases.

The current center receives 425,000 dollars from the city of Nevada, Vernon county and the Ambulance District. If passed by voters on August 4th, the sales tax would raise a projected $800-900,000 a year to increase total staff from 8 to 15 and pay for equipment upgrades.

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