Bluegrass 911 board members said the option of routing all the exchange's 911 calls to Lincoln County is the most affordable and makes sense given that the majority of phone numbers are on the Lincoln County side. And by taking over Casey's monthly service charge, Bluegrass 911 would be able to maintain the lower grandfathered rate.
But that option isn't possible if both counties don't agree, and Casey County Judge-Executive Ronald Wright said it wouldn't be fair to Casey County residents to create the same problem in reverse.
"We need to come up with a solution to split those like they used to be," he said. "We would like to retain Casey County customers."
Clark said if Lincoln has to pay $660 monthly for rerouting the 911 calls — nearly $8,000 per year and many times more than the grandfathered rate — it will essentially wipe out the savings Bluegrass 911 realized by switching to the Central Kentucky Phone Network in the first place.
The exorbitant price tag isn't justified because Windstream really just has to "flip a switch" to make things right, Clark said.
"Windstream is, in my opinion, trying to rip us off," he told Bluegrass 911 board members earlier this month.
But Elliott said there's more to it than the flip of a switch. If Bluegrass 911 were to pay Windstream for splitting the calls, Windstream would bring in engineers to redesign the circuits that route telephone calls in the area and then testing would be conducted on the new circuits to ensure they were set up properly.
"There is a lot of work going into making sure circuits work properly," he said.
Lincoln County Attorney and Bluegrass 911 board member Daryl Day said he believes from previous case examples that Windstream could be held liable for improperly routed 911 calls if something goes wrong and a family sues because an emergency response was delayed.
Elliott declined to comment specifically on legal issues like liability but said Windstream's preference would be to have a setup where every call is routed to the correct dispatch center.
"I don't know where the liabilities lie, but there is risk involved in not doing it the way the standards suggest that we do it," he said.
Lincoln County Judge-Executive and Bluegrass 911 board member Jim Adams said he wants to eliminate the "human error possibilities" involved with Casey having to identify and transfer Lincoln calls.
"From where I sit, we need to fix it and if it becomes Lincoln County's responsibility, then so be it," Adams said.
Clark, who has been negotiating with Windstream for months on the issue, is ready for a resolution as well.
"Whether we're being held ransom I don't know," he said. "But we're going to have to make a decision."
Bluegrass 911 board members have discussed the possibility of pulling in a state regulation agency, the Kentucky Public Service Commission, to put pressure on Windstream to offer a lower price for the re-routing. They've also initiated plans for a meeting of all the involved parties, where a solution could be hashed out.
When asked if there's any wiggle room on Windstream's re-routing price, Elliott was hesitant to say yes.
"I don't want to shut the door on it (price negotiations) because 911 is very important," he said.
No matter what happens with the re-routing issue, Elliott emphasized that people should definitely not shy away from calling 911 in an emergency situation and should not "panic" about potential minor delays — delays that he hopes will soon be eliminated.
"I do think there will be a resolution," he said.