Neshoba County will provide 911 emergency call and dispatch services to Kemper County when a new $1.6 million Emergency Operations Center opens after the first of the year.

The Neshoba County Board of Supervisors signed a memorandum of understanding Monday to provide the services to Kemper County, including its sheriff and police departments, volunteer fire protection districts and ambulance services, among others.

In return, Kemper will pay Neshoba County $60,000 for the first year of operation. That annual charge will increase 5 percent for each of the following four years.

After five years, the agreement could be renegotiated.

Kemper will also fund the needed startup equipment for its services at the EOC.

The Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen have yet to make a decision to move its police dispatch to the EOC.

Currently, all 911 calls in Philadelphia and Neshoba County are answered at the county's communications center housed at the jail.

If the request is for Philadelphia police response, the call is transferred to city communications housed in the police department where it is dispatched to officers.

Calls and dispatches for the city fire department have been handled by the county since about 1995 at no charge to the city.

Mayor Young said centralized dispatch for police would alleviate the second call tier for the city.

"We are discussing it," Young said. "We still have some employee issues to look at. We have eight people who work in our dispatch system right now. "

Should the city move its dispatching to the EOC, additional equipment specialized for its repeaters would have to be purchased, County Administrator Benjie Coats said.

Four additional dispatchers would also be needed at the EOC, he said.

Police Chief Bill Cox supports the city's move to the EOC, saying it would allow officers to respond more quickly to calls.

He said it would also be more cost efficient.

"This will provide a more effective law enforcement response," he said, noting that the additional training for telecommunicators would be a big plus.

Coats said the city needed to make a decision soon.

"We've given them a set of numbers for them to look at and we will go from there," he said. "The ball is in their court. We are vastly approaching time for the equipment to be purchased."

Under the agreement with Kemper County, Neshoba will provide National Crime Information Center services to its sheriff department and DeKalb, Scooba and East Mississippi Community College police departments with Kemper reimbursing any additional costs.

An Emergency Communi-cations Board will also be established as part of the agreement with Kemper County.

The board will consist of the Kemper and Neshoba County Emergency Management directors, the Kemper Sheriff, the Neshoba and Kemper County administrators and the Neshoba County communications supervisor.

A member of the Board of Supervisors could be appointed in lieu of a county administrator.

The EOC, to be constructed on Chestnut Street near the jail, will house 911 communications, administrative offices, a so-called "war room," support space and storage.

The county was awarded two matching grants to aid in funding the new facility including $976,800 presented by the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security, on behalf of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

In addition, the county received a $233,267 federal matching grant to harden the exterior wall, roof, windows and doors.

The EOC will help officials coordinate emergency services across various agencies and departments for the entire county from the one location.