911 Independence

Despite objections of county mayor Doyle Arp, Loudon County E-911 is hoping to become an independent organization. The problem arose last year when it was discovered that even though 911 employees had always been considered county employees, state retirement officials determined that they could not be considered county employees for the purpose of retirement funding under the current funding arrangement. 911 would need to come under a department of county government or become an independent agency to continue participation in state retirement.

Arp objected to an independent 911 saying if that happens the county will have no say so on what goes on. Arp also took issue with what he called rumors about EMA Director Gordon Harless taking over 911. However Arp was the one who suggested Harless as the director at an earlier budget meeting.

The question of allowing 911 to go independent will be before commission at their November meeting.

E-911 may become independent

Mary E. Hinds News Herald

Jennifer Estes Director of Loudon County's E-911 system, updated the county commission on the on-going plan to make her agency independent and to collect funds from the cities as well. 

The agency decided to make the move to independence when it was learned that E-911 employees could have difficulty entering the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement program, the same situation that prompted the Loudon County Economic Development Agency to become independent. 

Estes said the plan is to make E-911 its own entity and employees would become employees of the 911 District "the same as most of Tennessee." She said under the old arrangement they received approximately $725,000 per year from the county but the proposed change would lower that amount to $540,000. She also said E-911 expects to save another $36,000 on insurance costs.

Arp said when a change is discussed, "rumors spread" about possible changes to E-911 and putting it under another department head. Among them that Emergency Management Director Gordon Harless, who also heads the animal shelter, might take over but "he has his plate full" or Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider who "doesn't want it." 

Arp said the only other alternative was for the E-911 director to report directly to the county mayor. He also said if the agency becomes independent, the county will have "no say" in running it. 

He said he hoped the cities would contribute to the agency but "I don't see that happening, they've never paid before." Arp said the make up of the E-911 Board would not change if the agency become a separate entity from the county.