911 Center Debate in Lowndes County

by Ben Wolf
Wednesday September 20, 2006

Lowndes County controls the area's 911 call center. It's been doing it for the past 13 years. Now the sheriff wants to take the reigns, saying it would save $250,000 annually.

"I have never seen anybody that wants to pay more for something they're not getting just because of duplication and redundant things required of these dispatchers," said Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk.

Sheriff Paulk says too often ambulances are sent out when they aren't needed. County officials disagree.

"A trained medical personnel will make the decisions on the severity of injuries in an accident," said the county commission chairman.

Taxpayers are already taking sides.

"I think the 911 center that they have now is doing a very good job. I don't know what the Sheriff's Department is going to do when they get in there or whatever, but as it stands, they're doing a good job," said Valdosta resident Richard Butler.

"If we can save a dollar or two by going with the sheriff’s, then let's do it. If we can save money as taxpayers, then let's try it. If it doesn't work we can go back to the same old way it was before," said Lowndes County resident Tina Gray.

Paulk took the matter before a grand jury and the jury recommended the Sheriff's Department should take over the 911 center on a one-year trial basis. The county's Board of Commissioners will decide whether to grant the trial period.

The Lowndes County 911 Center services 13 organizations besides Lowndes County.