Could 9-1-1 Funding Cuts Be on the Way?

    Texas lawmakers trying to balance the budget are looking at proposing a 25 percent cut to funding for 9-1-1 service. These cuts could affect a third of the state's residents  including nine counties here in the area: Archer, Baylor, Clay, Young, Montague, Foard, Hardeman, Cottle, and Jack County. If approved, these cuts could cause 9-1-1 service fall behind in planned upgrades and could potentially leave residents in dire straits.
    9-1-1 is who you call when there's an emergency. But now this vital service may be in jeopardy if the state approves cutting 25 percent of its funding.
    "I know they have to balance the state budget, I just feel like it would jeopardize a life in the process that's potentially what we have here if some of the equipment does fail and we cant replace the equipment," said Dennis Wilde, Nortex Regional Planning Commission.
    Nortex Regional Planning Commission manages the 9-1-1 centers for 11 counties here in the area.
    "We service 11 counties but there is two counties that have already form a district so they are excluded from the budget cuts of Austin," said Wilde.
    One of the 9 affected counties would be Foard.It does not have a 9-1-1 service center of its own and relies on the 9-1-1 call center out of Hardeman to dispatch emergency responders.
    "With enhanced 9-1-1 system they have got over there and the response time is cut, if we have to give up that service it's going to effect the way that we provide our services to the general public in our county," said Sheriff Mike Brown, Foard County.
    Wichita and Wilbarger are the two counties here that wouldn't see any cuts since they don't rely state funding. But the other nine will see cuts in  training, public education, and the speed and effectiveness of the service.
    Now with these possible cuts Wilde says they are unable to go to the next level of 9-1-1 call taking, which would be digital meaning by text message. He says when they have the funding for the equipment it will be another two years before it is in place.

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