Havre Daily News
Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said there's no legal problem with locating the main enhanced-911 dispatch center at the Havre Police Department rather than at the county jail.
The joint city-county 911 board had asked for a legal opinion at the urging of city resident Bob Kaul.
Kaul, a Democratic candidate for the Havre City Council, said he believes the wording of a 1996 resolution backed by voters to build the Hill County Detention Center required the main e-911 center to be located at the jail.
Kaul raised the concern during several months of debate over where to house an e-911 emergency call center. In a compromise by city and county officials, the primary center will be at the police station and a backup center will be housed at the jail.
The compromise means that the 911 board will pay the state $82,000 for each of the two call centers. The money comes from a charge on county residents' phone bills.
Kaul in April sent a letter to Peterson asking for her legal opinion. Peterson said she couldn't provide an opinion for a private citizen. Last week, after Kaul raised the question again to the board, it voted to ask for an opinion from Peterson.
"The board is acting legally and can proceed with its plan," Peterson wrote to Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson, a member of the 911 board.
Peterson said the resolution made no specific mention of "E-911 services or to the location of the primary (call center) for E-911."
The resolution passed in 1996 authorized a county bond issue for "purchasing land, designing, constructing, installing and equipping a new Hill County Jail, Sheriff's Office and Emergency Services facility, which will include a detention facility and administrative facility ...," Peterson wrote. The bond issue was used for that purpose and a jail was built, she added.
Peterson said today she won't forward the question to the Montana Attorney General's Office, which the board asked her to do if she could not provide an opinion.
Kaul says the emergency services facility was to include emergency dispatching.
"I don't know where we'll go from here," Kaul said today.
The vote to forward the question to Peterson was 4-1. Havre Police Chief Mike Barthel voted no, saying he did not want to see any more delays in putting e-911 service in place.
"I'm thankful for the quick response from the county attorney so the city and county can move forward," Barthel said today.