Graford Council approves creation of ECD
The Graford City Council authorized the creation of an Emergency Communications District at its meeting Tuesday, May 10.
According to a letter from Hunt County Judge John Horn, chairman of the North Central Texas Council of Governments 9-1-1 Regional Advisory Committee, a law passed in the most recent legislative session requires the governing body of each entity now served by a council of governments to pass a resolution calling for the creation of an ECD.
The Health and Safety Code was amended to permit councils of governments/regional planning commissions to establish regional emergency communications districts.
Horn reported that NCTCOG administers the State’s 9-1-1 Program for the Graford/Palo Pinto County area and that it has “more than met the legislative charge of providing emergency dispatch centers with the latest and best available equipment and technology, and assuring that this equipment and technology is operating or backed up on a 24 hour-365 day basis. Additionally, they have actively assisted with the training and certification of dispatch center personnel.”
Citizens and businesses are reportedly being charged a 50-cent fee on their phone bills to pay for 9-1-1 services. That money is remitted to and held by the state funds collected to the Texas Commission on State Emergency Communications and it can be allocated to councils of governments. The state is currently holding more than $150 million dollars, and more than 15 percent was collected from the NCTCOG region, which encompasses 16 counties, including Palo Pinto, Parker, Wise, Hood, Erath, Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Johnson, Somervell, Collin, Hunt, Rockwall, Kaufman, Ellis and Navarro.
NCTCOG has the authority to grant local participants in the program who create an ECD the opportunity to gain control of the funds collected from the region in their entirety.
Horn said the problem is that the legislature does not always appropriate all of the funds collected but retains some of the funds to show a balanced state budget.
“A long-range strategic plan could be adopted outlining future capital improvements and replacements for our dispatch centers based on a known and reliable stream of revenue,” Horn said. “Under the present situation, we have no certainty of the amount of funding that the region will receive during any given biennium. This results in a lot of inefficiencies because long-term planning for capital equipment is difficult to do.”
He recommended the creation of an ECD and encouraged participation.
The new law specifies that NCTCOG will continue as staff to the district, which assures that there is no disruption to the current services provided to citizens and businesses through the already existing dispatch centers.
“An initial ECD Board of Directors consisting of a representative from participating entities would meet to determine the size of the permanent board and the qualifications of its members,” Horn said, adding that at least two-thirds of the initial board members must be elected officials.
Graford’s Mayor Pro-Tem Alice Sain said she wants to set up authorization for the money to come back to the area and emphasized that there will be no added cost to taxpayers. Council members agreed unanimously to support the creation of an ECD.
In other business, the council heard the first reading of an ordinance reducing the speed on U.S. Highway 337 at Graford.
“The state wants to lower the speed limit to 60 miles per hour beginning two-tenths of a mile in either direction from the four-way stop intersection,” Sain told council members. “All we have to do is sign the ordinance and the state will absorb the cost; there will not be any cost charged to the City of Graford.”
Sain added that there will need to be a second reading on the matter, and that it will be placed on next month’s agenda, which should take place Tuesday, June 14, at Graford City Hall.
Graford resident Donna Srader addressed the council concerning the closure of an alley way at 408 E. Powell Ave. Mayor Carl Walston said that had been discussed and rejected in the past because the city may need to use it.
“The alley way might be needed for the purpose of running water and sewer lines in the future,” Sain said.
The council also discussed water and drainage ditch issues, due to the recent rainfall of more than eight inches in Graford, and the council approved addendums for administration and engineering contracts with Jacob and Martin, LTD, Architects and Engineers concerning wastewater treatment services. Sain said a paragraph had been left out of the original contract, but that it does not change anything.