STANFORD — Lincoln County Fiscal Court may consider next month taking on the cost of rerouting 911 calls for the Hustonville area if no other solution can be reached.
Emergency calls for approximately 1,300 phone numbers with the Hustonville 346 exchange currently get routed to Casey County dispatch instead of Bluegrass 911, the dispatch center that serves Lincoln County.
In order to reprogram the trunklines and send Lincoln County numbers to Bluegrass 911, the area phone provider, Windstream Communications, wants to charge an initial setup fee of more than $700 and monthly recurring charges that add up to almost $8,000 per year.
Bluegrass 911 Director Russ Clark reiterated his stance on Tuesday to Lincoln magistrates that Windstream's prices are "way out of line."
"They're trying to hold us hostage," he said.
But Adams said he's not sure if Lincoln County can afford to hold out for a reasonable price.
"In the short term, I don't see anything that can be done to change this," he said. "This isn't going to go away."
Bluegrass 911 is "pretty well strapped" for cash, so it understandably cannot afford such a steep price hike, he said.
Adams said he would like to decide at the next fiscal court meeting whether county is "going to accept this cost."
County Attorney Daryl Day said he thinks a governmental regulation agency, the Public Service Commission, should be able to put pressure on Windstream to offer more reasonable prices.
Representatives for Windstream have told The Interior Journal previously that the rates being offered to Bluegrass 911 are set by government-approved tariffs and are the same rates offered to all customers for the same service.
The routing problem stems from the fact that Casey County currently pays Windstream a little more than $70 per month to send calls on the Hustonville trunklines to Casey County dispatch.
Casey dispatchers currently have to call Bluegrass 911 in order to relay any 911 calls they receive that should have gone to Lincoln County.
If Casey County allowed Lincoln to take over the monthly payment, Windstream could route the calls to Bluegrass 911 instead. But there are also 300 Casey County numbers on the same exchange and their 911 calls would then be routed incorrectly to Lincoln County.
Casey County Judge-Executive Ronald Wright has been resistant to solving Lincoln's problem by creating a new problem for his residents.
"He's reluctant to do that because he has his 300 constituents that he's looking out for and I think he has a point," Lincoln Judge-Executive Jim Adams said.
Day said Windstream and Casey County should be concerned about whether they could be sued if someone's 911 service is delayed.
"Windstream is definitely not immune from liability," he said. "The lawyer in me says that Casey County is accepting liability for those 1,300 people."