NEWPORT—The Emergency Communications District (E-911) Board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss several important items.
One of those agenda items discussed was the 2019-20 fiscal budget for the Cocke County E-911.
Board members were presented with two options for the fiscal year. Option one featured no pay raise, and option two featured a two percent increase in pay for all E-911 employees.
Board member Newell ‘Hop’ Byrd made a motion to support budget option two, which featured the increase. He gave his support for the raise saying it was, “due to the increased cost in living.”
Vanessa Dennis made a second to the motion sending it to a roll call vote.
Byrd, Dennis, Maurice Shults, Randy Ragan and Shalee Benson, the five board members present, supported the pay increase.
E-911 Director Nancy Hansel said the two percent increase would add just over $4,000 to the budget.
“Everyone will appreciate this raise and we also appreciate the support that this board gives us,” Hansel said.
Benson noted that the two percent increase is under the regular COLA (cost-of-living adjustment) that usually exceeds three percent.
All funding for E-911 comes from the state, and the budget will be submitted before the July deadline.
Also put before the board for consideration was a resolution to support a 9-1-1 surcharge rate restoration.
The Tennessee Emergency Communications Board (TECB) has asked for support of the restoration in surcharges to $1.50 per line.
The surcharge rate is currently set at $1.16 statewide for all devices capable of calling 9-1-1. Two cents of the $1.16 rate is the set aside to fund the Telecommunications Devices Access Program, which provides devices to the speech or hearing-impaired.
The remaining $1.14 is used to support Emergency Communications Districts statewide.
According to the resolution, districts across Tennessee are falling into negative budgets, and are unable to fulfill financial obligations for their day-to-day operations.
The increase in funding from the $1.50 surcharge would help mitigate the shortfall many districts face.
Chairman Shults provided his support of the increase saying, “I want to go on record showing my support of this increase, and I’m asking it be forwarded to the legislature to have it passed.”
Support for the resolution was voted on and passed unanimously.
Some old business was rehashed during the meeting as well.
The board had previously given their support to transfer funding into CDs with local banks.
Funds were placed into Commercial Bank and US Bank. According to Director Hansel, US Bank was unable to provide an 11-month CD at a 2.32 percent interest rate.
She said the bank couldn’t provide such a deal to a government entity. A 6-month option was chosen at a 1.95 percent rate.
Hansel told board members that the funds could be moved back to Commercial Bank once the US Bank terms have expired.