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Oxford to pay share of 911 fee

COVINGTON - The city of Oxford will now pay for dispatch services provided by the Covington-Newton County 911 Center.

Oxford will pay $18,282 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 911 Center Director Mike Smith told county commissioners at their Tuesday night meeting.

Smith said the amount was determined by dispatch call volume. Oxford Police Department calls dispatched through the 911 center amount to about 1.5 to 2 percent of total calls, he said. The agreement will be in effect for five years, and the annual fee could change based on call volume, he said. The fee is payable in monthly installments, he added.

The intergovernmental agreement with Oxford states that the city will pay a proportional share of the cost of operating the 911 Center, minus what is paid by 911 surcharges.

The annual budget for the 911 Center is about $2.3 million, with about $1 million coming in through surcharges, leaving about $1.3 million to be paid by agencies that use the center's dispatch services.

Smith said that the 911 Center, funded by the city of Covington and Newton County, has been bearing the cost of dispatching police calls for both Oxford and Porterdale for years.

"The county leaders and city leaders cannot continue to provide this for free," Smith said in an earlier interview.

The Porterdale City Council has yet to approve a similar intergovernmental agreement. Porterdale owes $46,000; calls dispatched to its police department account for nearly 5 percent of total calls, Smith said.

In January, Porterdale City Manager Tom Fox advised the council to request a seat on the 911 board, which oversees the operation of the 911 Center, to protect the city's long-term interests. He said the city needed more information about what is covered in the contract before signing off.

Newborn and Mansfield police and fire protection is already handled by the county, so they are not being asked to contribute, Smith said.

Editor Alice Queen contributed to this story.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.