DeSoto (Miss.) $7M bonds boost 9-1-1 system
With bonds, building codes and boot policy on the agenda, the DeSoto Board of Supervisors on Monday kicked a long-sought $9.2 million emergency radio communications system revamp into high gear with approval of a funding plan sought by the county’s Emergency 911 District Commission.
“With all the changes in technology, it’s important that this be allowed to happen,” said Supervisor Lee Caldwell of Nesbit, board president. The panel decided to issue up to $7 million in bonds to help fund the system from Motorola.
The balance of the cost will come from 911 district funds already raised through a $1 tariff, allowed by state law, on monthly cell and land line phone bills in DeSoto. The district also will handle debt service on the bonds from the same source.
“I feel really good” about the bond approval, said Bill Dahl, 911 district commission chairman. “It’s going to move us forward and we really need it.”
The new system, to be installed by fall of next year, will improve coverage for fire, police and paramedic crews and provide direct, common links with other agencies “all the way to the Coast” for mutual help, said 911 district commissioner Chris Shelton. He said testing of system components from DeSoto schools and hospitals “showed immediate, 100 percent improvement” of communications.
Chris Olson, county Emergency Services deputy chief, said the $9.2 million represented “getting the best bang for the buck. I know some systems looked at early on were in the $15 million range.”
The supervisors took under advisement comments at a public hearing on adoption of a substantial portion of the 2012 International Building Code, including international residential, plumbing, mechanical, fuel-gas and electric guidelines and the 2011 National Electric Code. More discussion is expected at the next board session Nov. 17.
“We want to vet it more,” Caldwell said of the heavy volumes. “We want to see how each change translates into costs for homebuilders and homebuyers. Safety is paramount, but you have to be able to afford a house.”
In his presentation of the code proposals, county building official Randy Williams said changes from model language include earthquake-resistance options that allow structures to be sheathed in plywood or load-bearing, oriented strand board instead of more expensive brace wall panels and metal tie-downs. Another change is that automatic fire sprinkler systems shall be optional in townhouses and one- and two-family dwellings.
“It’s reasonable and fair,” Sean Green of Dream Home Construction in Olive Branch said of the proposed package. “Some things will cost us more money, but not crazy amounts of money.”
The board member and former president of the Home Builders Association North Mississippi said that if all model code provisions were enforced, “the price of an average house would rise $25,000 to $30,000. And none of it adds to appraisals. It all comes out of the builders’ pockets,” said Green.
As to a boot policy for compliance with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration footwear standards for hazardous jobs, the supervisors decided to gather more input from such county units as Emergency Services, Animal Services, Environmental Services and the road department on various needs. A board committee is expected to make a recommendation at a later meeting.
The chair of Supervisor Harvey Wayne Lee of Hernando, who died Tuesday at 54 from injuries in an all-terrain-vehicle accident, was occupied by a rose and this Bible verse from First Samuel 20:18 — “Then Jonathan said to David, Tomorrow is the full moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.”
Caldwell said she expects the board to appoint someone by the end of the year to fill Lee’s term, which ends in January 2016. The next supervisors’ primary election is August 2015, with the general election in November 2015.