Special Commendation: A Shining Example
Seven counties joined forces in a precedent-setting effort to create the Middle Flint Regional E911 Authority. Schley, Dooly, Macon, Marion, Sumter, Taylor and Webster counties formed the authority in late 2001 to provide 911 service for all their residents.
For this joint effort, judges in the Georgia County Excellence Awards program have voted the counties a special commendation.
Ross King, ACCG deputy director, calls the authority "a shining example of rural regional success. We are holding it up as a model for other regions across the state, especially as it relates to organization, staffing and financing."
Prior to the authority's creation, there was no 911 service in the region, except in the city of Americus. Authority Chairman Bill Bowen, who is vice chairman of the Sumter County Commission, says, "All the counties had all been looking at the need for emergency service and when this came off the drawing board I believe they were ready for action."
The 911 service became operational in April 2005, when Sumter and Webster counties went online; other counties soon followed. Now some 52 public service agencies in the region use the service, says Doug Redmond, Schley County administrator and the authority's vice chairman.
The authority, which has a 2006 operating budget of $1.4 million, is headquartered in Schley County, on five acres donated by the city of Ellaville. The E911 dispatching center was built with funds from a OneGeorgia grant.
Funding for the authority comes from two sources: the E911 surcharge added to telephone service in the seven counties and monies from each county. "For a lot of counties this is the only way they could provide the 911 service because of the cost involved," Redmond says.
Bowen says the joint effort provides 911 service to Sumter "for about 40 percent" of what it would cost the county to go it alone.
"The success of this project," he says, "is going to provide the opportunity for us to look at, particularly in rural Georgia, the shared service concept in other areas - such as water and fire services - where we can provide better services more economically."