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Kentucky counties join to share 9-1-1 services

Lawmakers say interlocal agreements are used statewide in Kentucky

FRANKFORT—Garrard County’s 9-1-1 service was nearly lifeless when John Wilson took over as county judge-executive nine years ago, he told state lawmakers earlier this week

“Our 9-1-1- service was insolvent,” Wilson said. “We were on the verge of closing.”

Looking for a solution, Wilson and other Garrard County officials shared their 9-1-1 problem with officials in neighboring Lincoln County. Soon there was talk about pooling resources to offer shared 9-1-1 dispatching services—an idea that both counties thought would work.

Eventually Garrard and Lincoln counties became the first two Kentucky counties to enter into an interlocal agreement for 9-1-1 service, Wilson told the Interim Joint Committee on Local Government on Wednesday. Of all the interlocal agreements that his county has signed, that is the one in which, he says, he is most proud.

“(9-1-1 service) has been entirely self-supported since the merger,” said Wilson. The counties have saved costs on personnel and utilities and ramped up their 9-1-1 dispatch coverage for law enforcement in the two counties.

Garrard County also has entered into an interlocal agreement that allows over two dozen central Kentucky counties to share a 9-1-1 phone database, Wilson said. That has saved Garrard and Lincoln counties around $6,000 a month or over half a million dollars to date.

“So these interlocal agreements have been a good thing for us,” said Wilson. “As you can work across county lines, it’s very advantageous to do so.”

Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster, praised Wilson and the regionalization efforts he has overseen in Garrard County, Shell’s home county.

“We’ve got a lot of problems that can be solved through regionalization and I’m just proud of the judge for what he’s been doing in Garrard County,” said Shell.

Entering into interlocal agreements
Local Government Committee Co-Chair Rep. Steve Riggs, D-Louisville, said he encourages local government organizations like the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association—which testified today alongside Wilson and Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner—to provide more training on interlocal agreements. He said the training should stand alone and not be buried within another class.

“Make it its own training class with its own title…It should always be a permanent discussion because everyone seems to think it works well, and the citizens like the concept,” said Riggs.

Turner, who is the legislative chairman of the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association, said there have been 815 interlocal agreements approved by the state Department of Local Government since 2000 with over 2,500 entities participating in those agreements.

Every county in Kentucky participates in some form of interlocal agreement, Turner told lawmakers.

Legislative Research Commission

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