911 phone payments could lead to new 911 call center

Every month, you pay about one dollar on your phone bill for 911 service.

Over time, that one dollar has turned into $18 million. Now, city and county leaders said it is long overdue to build one giant dispatch center with that money to help foot the bill.
On the top floor of the county justice center in a cramped room, 911 Memphis dispatchers are answering emergency calls.

"The facility that our dispatchers are in are not the ideal working environment. In it's time, in its day...it was nice," police director Larry Godwin said.

That was 26 years ago. Dispatch has been there since 1982. Now the department is pleading for more space and a better location.

Memphis City councilman Jim Strickland is pushing an idea that could get them a new facility with little taxpayer burden.

"An absolutely no brainier that we build a joint center with $18 million in the bank with a revenue stream coming from the citizens," Strickland said.     
He is talking about using $18 million of the 911 fees collected and combine it with future fees to finance a new dispatch building on county land near Shelby Farms.   
The price tag is $40 million. 911 fees would fund most of the total bill.

"There may not be enough phone to pay $40 million dollars, but their maybe for $20-30 million dollars. I think at least it'll pay a large chunk of it and the city and county may half to foot the rest of it," Strickland said.

Local legislators all agreed that it should happen. Now each body has to pass resolutions supporting the measures.

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