Scott County agencies request funds for equipment upgrades

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Police, fire and emergency services agencies in Scott County asked county commissioners Tuesday for American Rescue Plan Act funding to help improve communications among the agencies.

Representatives from agencies around the county said upgrading and equipment would improve communication among each and allow for more efficiency and interoperability, according to Second District Commissioner Donnie Kiefer.

Nearly all the agencies seek connection to Missouri Statewide Wireless Interoperability Network, or MOSWIN. The system streamlines interagency communications among law enforcement agencies but requires MOSWIN-capable radios.

Kiefer said the agencies requested a little more than $2 million. He said the county has not approved the agencies’ request.

“Before we do approve these monies, we have to do some research,” Kiefer said. “We’ve got a law firm that we confer with to make sure these kinds of funds can be used for this certain situation. Before we approve, we’ll make sure it could be covered from that [American Rescue Plan].”

Rescue funds usage

According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Scott County will receive $7.4 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Kiefer said Scott County received $3.7 million in its first installment of American Rescue Plan funds earlier this year.

So far, according to Kiefer, Scott County has used only a small portion of the installment. The funds were used to buy a piece of equipment for Scott County Jail.

“We bought a body scanner so jail personnel could scan prisoners without contact as they come in,” Kiefer said. “It’s a way to fight COVID.”

Governments may use the funds for a variety of purposes, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Possible allocations include the support of public health expenditures, replacing lost public sector revenue and investments into water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

“There are still a lot of questions out there on what this can actually be used for, so we want to make sure we do it the right way,” Kiefer said.

Central dispatch tax

Last month, Scott County voters opposed a countywide 0.25% sales tax county officials have said would provide unified technology among 911 centers in Scott County. The measure failed with a 62.12% “no” vote.

Scott County Clerk Rita Milam told the Southeast Missourian before the election the tax was projected to raise $900,000 annually for 911 centers across the county.

Funds raised from the tax would have been divided among Scott County municipalities, according to Milam. She said the money would have been used to upgrade each 911 center’s equipment to have the same unified technology.

Kiefer said Tuesday’s $2 million ask, if granted, would have a different impact from the 911 tax.

“This is completely different from the 911 tax,” Kiefer said. “But it’s something that could go along with that. ... It would be a way for everybody in our county to be on the same page.”

The Southeast Missourian requested comment from Scott City Fire Department, Scott County Emergency Management and Scott County Sheriff’s Office. As of presstime, none had responded.

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