911 Emergency Centers Calling Out for Economies of Scale
One of the first issues we extensively wrote about here on the Show-Me Institute’s blog is in the news today. Sen. Jason Crowell is insisting that any additional funding for emergency call centers follow behind some much-needed consolidation of those same centers. The Southeast Missourian has the story, and we thank JC for the link.
There are some exciting quotes in this story from Sen. Crowell, and he is 100 percent right on all of them:
“You’re never, ever going to get the money until you consolidate,” Crowell said. “I’ll force you. I’ll starve you down to it, if you’re not going to do it of your own free will.”
He went on to say the state has 114 counties but 174 individual 911 call centers, including two across the street from one another in Chillicothe, Mo. In a world where all fast food orders for a chain restaurant go to one place, he said, and all North American service calls for Charter Communications go through Cape Girardeau, there has to be a way to streamline 911 services.
“I know how important it is,” Crowell said. “But by gosh we can do it more efficiently, and that’s what the taxpayers deserve and that’s what the taxpayers demand.”
He then cites some examples of inefficiency in his own area:
Cape Girardeau County has three 911 centers, one operated by Cape Girardeau, one by Jackson and one by the county. Scott County has five independent 911 centers.
As I said, we covered this back in early 2007 as some cities in St. Louis County were consolidating on their own and the state was debating a larger tax to fund them. We still have too many call centers in our area, which goes hand in hand with having 91 municipalities, but there are a couple of examples in which small cities have done a nice job of sharing resources and saving money.
We currently have 174 call centers, and Sen. Crowell said in the article that there should be five statewide. I don’t know what the most efficient and effective number would be, but I am sure it is a greal deal closer to Sen. Crowell’s number than to the current one. I really don’t care whether that final number is five or nine or 12, just that it is a lot lower than 174. It is heartening to see someone fight for efficient use of tax money, like Sen. Crowell is doing here.