on 911 agreement
Havre Daily News
The road is still clear for a peaceable resolution of a disagreement over where to house a primary enhanced-911 call center in Hill County.
For six months, county officials advocated consolidating 911 facilities at the Hill County Detention Center, and city officials advocated using the Havre Police Department as a main call center and the county facility as backup.
Last month, county and city representatives on the joint e-911 board agreed to a compromise that would go with the city's plan on certain conditions. At a meeting Tuesday, the board began meeting those conditions.
"We have to lay the foundation of how it's going to be done," Hill County Sheriff Greg Szudera said today.
The first step was to put in place protocol for routing calls between agencies and assign responsibility for 911 operations. The agreement, preliminarily approved by the board, gives Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel and Szudera responsibility for making decisions that affect day-to-day operations, Szudera said.
According to the agreement, the city would have to ask for backup help ahead of time unless an emergency arose.
The April compromise included conditions that both facilities would be given the same equipment updates in the future. If accepted, the agreement could not be changed for five years and the Hill County Commission would be able to elect the board's seventh, at-large member, giving the county a four-to-three majority on the board. Finally, the agreement would be adopted once the protocol, the first step, was established. The board Tuesday decided to submit the protocol to the city and county attorneys and to the public at public hearings. It will vote on whether to adopt the protocol in June.
The board also adopted new bylaws Tuesday that are consistent with the compromise.
"This is kind of like setting up the rules and if the rules are acceptable to everybody, then we can agree to work toward this particular plan," county planner and 911 board member Clay Vincent said today.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Bob Kaul asked that the city and county officials find out whether the board can legally go forward with the compromise. Kaul, who is a candidate for Havre City Council, has been a vocal proponent of consolidating 911 service at the jail.
Kaul said that in 1996, county voters approved a $4 million bond issue to build the Hill County jail. The language on the ballot said the jail would be used to answer all 911 calls. Kaul said he wonders if a change would have be approved by the voters.
"Are we in violation of the law?" Kaul asked.
Havre Mayor Bob Rice said the city and county attorneys have been involved in setting the terms of the compromise. The lawyers would have brought forward any legal problems, he said.
Board members agreed to take the matter to the attorneys.