Regional 911 Board Will Lose A County

By: Marie Luby Email
By: Marie Luby Email

One of four counties in an eastern Kentucky regional 9-1-1 board decides to leave the group.

WYMT’s Marie Luby went to the board meeting to find out what it means for service to Leslie County, and what it's going to cost people in Breathitt, Letcher and Knott Counties.

Funding is on its way to Leslie County from the Kentucky River Area Development District to pay for state-of-the-art equipment for its own dispatch center.

Emergency Management Director James Couch says that's one reason the county is breaking off from the 911 board that also serves Breathitt, Letcher, and Knott. He says it's also about logistics.

“Our dispatchers are born and raised in the area, they know the people, they know the area, they know the roads. It just better serves our people,” James Couch said.

The change means three to four thousand dollars less for the regional board each month.

“Really we're going to have to look at all the numbers, get our projected costs, to see exactly how much more money we're going to have to have,” Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward said.

Board Director and Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward says a surcharge increase is the most likely way to come up with the extra dollars.

He says rates haven't been raised since 1996 and most people probably won't see more than a dollar increase on their monthly phone bills.

“If someone has to come to your house for a fire, or an ambulance has to come pick someone in your family up, that's what you're paying for,” Ward said.

Ward says one dispatcher layoff is a possibility, but a last resort.

“Really the way they have them scheduled, it's a real tight ship here anyway. I really don't see how we can let one of them be off because you know it's seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” Ward said.

Leslie County officials expect to be on their own by June or July.

Leslie County 9-1-1 officials say rates may have to be adjusted in the future, but initially people should see no surcharge increase on their phone bills.

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