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Taking the next step
Commissioners approve agreement, payment for new 911 system
new deh county commission 911 photo web
Pictured is the Barton County Communications Office. The County Commission approved the renewal the department’s Active 911 membership Monday morning. - photo by Tribune file photo

 Taking the next step in emergency communications, the Barton County  Commission Monday morning approved a memorandum of agreement with Kansas 911 Coordinating Council for Next Generation 911. The agreement outlines the program use and cost. 

As a follow up, the commission authorized making payment the council for these services. The commission approved a deduction from the county’s 911 tax funds, and scheduled payments would include a $29,000 withdraw for 2016, with 2017 and 2018 allocations to be made in the amount of $74,400 annually.

“Last October, our phone system failed,” said 911 Director Dena Popp. “This forced us to switch to Next Generation 911 sooner than expected.”

Next Generation 911 (NG 911) is an internet protocol (IP)-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos and text messages) to flow from the public, through the 911 network, and on to emergency responders, Popp said. It is hosted by the State of Kansas.

It was installed Aug. 9. “We are currently operating on that system,” she said.

Since it is state maintained, Popp said all of the county’s maps and information can be accessed from anywhere in the state, which is great in the event of an emergency. “We can dispatch from any agency and we can dispatch for any agency.”

The $29,000 payment was pro-rated by the state since Barton County didn’t start using NG 911 until mid year. The payments for 2017 and 2018 will be $74,000.

The county is locked in for the next two years at that price.

The state requested an automatic withdrawal of the payments from the 911 tax funds. Although authorized, this is a departure from how the county usually handles paying invoices.

The 911 money comes to the county about in the middle of each month. The amount varies.