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State attorney urges 911 Board to pass agreement, comply with state statute

The way the Unicoi County 911 Board is currently set up, said Tennessee Emergency Communications Board Assistant Director and General Counsel Curtis Sutton, is not in compliance with state policy.
Compliance with the state board’s policy is contingent upon approval of an interlocal agreement between the board members, Sutton said.
“One of the first times I came up here, I took a look at the makeup of the board and the board is not comprised correctly,” Sutton said. “If you want to have the representation that’s on the board right now, you have to have an interlocal agreement.”
If the interlocal agreement is passed, Sutton said the county will be considered a consolidated emergency communications district.
“That allows you to determine the makeup of the board,” Sutton said. “If you don’t have that agreement then this board has to be appointed by the county mayor.”
Sutton said state law T.C.A. 7-86-105 dictates the procedures by which the emergency communications board must be composed. “In order to allow the cities, county or the district to determine the makeup of the board, it has to set out funding percentages in an agreement,” Sutton said. “That’s what the law says.”
State legislation has been proposed to prohibit the consolidation of a district in the manner by which the county is seeking, Sutton said. “The legislation that would have drafted up would have a grandfather clause in it,” Sutton said. “We did not pursue that legislation this year because we did not have the staff.”
“I would highly recommend that if you’re going to do this that you do it before the next legislative session,” Sutton said.
Town of Unicoi Attorney Lois Shults said there are additional factors that need to be considered with regard to the town in the interlocal agreement.
“The utilization from community to community is different,” Shults said. “There are some differences that need to be considered in there aside from just numbers of citizens as so forth.”
Shults said it’s important to seek out an agreement that is fair to all agencies involved.
“All we’re saying is we want the calculation and consideration to be fair to the town of Unicoi,” Shults said.
Sutton said the way the percentages are determined is up to the district, but noted the law requires some kind of percentages to be included when determining the makeup of the board.
“How ever you wanted to come to those percentages is fine,” Sutton said. “That’s a local decision.”
During the meeting, Chairman Hensley suggested the interlocal agreement be reviewed and approved annually.

For the remainder of this article please see the February 26, 2013 edition of The Erwin Record.