, Muskogee, OK

March 17, 2013

E911 employees to see raises

Pay increase of 3 percent part of 2014 budget

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Emergency call center employees will see their paychecks get a little fatter after July 1.

The pay raise is part of the $2.15 million budget unanimously approved by directors of the Muskogee City-County Enhanced 911 Trust Authority.

The budget includes a 3 percent across-the-board pay raise and a $24,000 radio software upgrade. The radio software upgrade is required to keep pace with the statewide system.

The authority’s fiscal year 2014 budget also reflects a nearly 14.7 percent, or  $370,752, decrease from this year’s budget. The budget approved this week, however, carries forward $41,077.44 to a reserve fund for “next generation” upgrades expected to be developed during the next five to six years.

Muskogee Fire Chief Derek Tatum, who serves as authority chairman, said revenue generated by fees assessed on land lines declined significantly this year. The authority projected revenue totaling $804,000 from land lines for the present budget cycle, but directors project only $660,000 for the coming year — that reflects a 17.91 percent, or $144,000, decrease.

“Luckily, the wireless is going up,” Tatum said about the fees assessed for cellular telephone users. “That helps make up some of the difference.”

Projected revenue from cell phone fees for fiscal year 2014 total $410,000, up $146,000, or 55.3 percent, from the $264,000 budgeted this year. Darryl Maggard, who serves as the authority’s executive director, attributed part of the increase to regular disbursements of fees assessed on prepaid cell phone accounts and government subsidized Lifeline phones.

“That’s one of the reasons we are going to the Capitol,” said Maggard, who serves on the Oklahoma Statewide 911 Advisory Board’s legislative committee. “This is becoming a big problem — not just here, but across the country.”

City Manager Greg Buckley, who serves as a director for the local 911 authority, said expenditures budgeted for fiscal year 2014 better reflect the call center’s operating costs.

“This updates costs and realigns the line items for expenditures,” Buckley said about the fiscal year 2014 budget. “This brings them more in line with actual costs.”

While personnel expenditures will increase about $43,740, or 4.02 percent, from the $1.09 million budgeted this year, maintenance and operations costs and capital outlays will shrink significantly.

Directors budgeted $930,728 for maintenance and operations during the next fiscal year, down 20.62 percent, or $241,808, from the $1.17 million budgeted this year. The amount budgeted next year for capital outlays dropped nearly 65.74 percent, or $172,687, from the $262,687 budgeted this year.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot