Ed Smith Jr. resigns from E911 Board
By R.L. Thompson
The Okfuskee County Commissioners accepted the resignation of Ed Smith Jr. (Skeeter) from the Okfuskee County E-911 Board during their meeting on August 7. Smith submitted his letter of resignation to the Commissioners on August 8. In his letter of resignation, Smith said he “was appointed by the County Commissioners several years ago and it has been a pleasure to serve. Due to my recent retirement from the Okemah Police Department, I feel someone currently serving in Okfuskee County emergency services could better fill this role.”
Ed Smith Jr. (Skeeter) served as the Chief of Police for Okemah for 35 years. His final day in office was September 23, 2022 with his retirement effective in March of 2023. Skeeter was well respected in the law enforcement community. It has been stated by those in law enforcement that “Skeeter was the type of policeman that was needed. He locked up the bad guys and kept the community safe.”
The E911 Board, specifically the money associated with the system has been a topic of conversation since Okemah hired Kristi Lesley as City Manager.
Okemah City Manager Kristi Lesley previously visited the County Commissioners on Monday, April 10 to discuss the County paying for some of the dispatching salaries from 9-1-1 fees.
During the April 10 meeting, Dan Parish advised the Board of Commissioners the revenue averages around $127,000 per year and expenditures around $60,000 per year. It was reported the current balance is approximately $378,000. E-911 purchased new equipment and provided training two years ago at a cost of $270,000 and will need to be replaced in two to three years.
City Manager Lesley commented to the Board of Commissioners during the April 10 meeting that the City of Okemah has spent around $1,000,000 for dispatchers in the last five years while dispatching for the entire county. According to Lesley, the City of Okemah has also paid around $350,000 over the past five years for emergency management that also serves the entire county. The City of Okemah is still receiving the $25,000 grant that Okfuskee County gave up when they agreed to share a director.
According to Oklahoma 9-1-1 Coordinator, Lance Terry, the audit form for Okfuskee County shows revenue from landlines to be $21,789 for FY2022 and wireless revenue of $106,380 for the same period. So the total revenue for FY2022 is $128,169. They stated their telecom cost is $36,821 and GIS is $6,000 which totals $42,821. This would mean a net savings of $85,348 for FY2022. This savings can only be used for things related to the 911 center.
During the May 1 Okfuskee County Commissioner’s meeting, Mary Harris advised the Board that House Bill (HB) 1590 would raise the wireless fee from .75 to $1.25. HB1590 was signed by the Governor on May 17. However, it will become effective on November 1, 2023.
Commission Chairman Yandell advised Copeland in the May 1 meeting that an E-911 meeting would need to be called to decide how many salaries and if any the Board wants to pay. County Clerk Dianne Flanders said she would check with the Auditor’s office to see if funds can be paid directly to the City of Okemah.
Presently the Okemah City Police Department is dispatching all of the 9-1-1- calls for Okfuskee County.