A consultant with the County Technical Advisory Service, who also serves as a Putnam County 911 board member, says the board of directors ultimately have responsibility for the actions taken by an organization, such as the Overton/Pickett Emergency Communications District.
Ben Rodgers said the board of directors establish policy, approve funding, and also hire the director.
“We don’t oversee daily management, but just like a county commission approves the operating budget, the 911 board approves the budget for the 911 district to operate on,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said 911 boards meet every other month and receive a list of expenditures and a treasurer report to review. The reports allow the board to know what’s in the bank and what has been spent.
Another part of the 911 board’s responsibility, Rodgers said, is to follow the guidelines of policy that is usually handed down by the state.
“There is policy on certain expenditures before they can spend if it’s over a certain threshold,” Rodgers said. “They would have to get approval if it’s not already in the budget. Day-to-day operations are spent and then the board will review those in the expenditures at the next meeting.”
Rodgers said most of the time that threshold is set at $10,000.
Rodgers said he gets the sense that boards of directors, as a whole, have a good understanding of their responsibilities. He said it’s due in part, to several instances in the past where certain boards have lost oversight of what their task is.
“The biggest failure in oversight is a lot of internal control issues, like risk assessment,” Rodgers said. “In the past several years, I think there is better oversight with board members and I think they have a better understanding of what they are supposed to be doing on those boards.”
“There are exceptions, he said. “But I believe the days of putting your friends on the board is gone.”
Rodgers said there is no required training for 911 board members. CTAS offers training for county commissioners, but not for 911 board members.
“I believe the more you can educate and train people in county and city government, the more efficient government will be and the less abuse of taxpayer dollars,” Rodgers said. ”
Tennessee Emergency Communication Board Executive Director Curtis Sutton said the state does offer training to 911 board members, if requested. In the past, the state has also offered auditing and financial training to board members.
The Tennessee Emergency Numbers Association has offered a board member 101 training class at it’s annual conference, but is not slated to do so this year.
The last time TENA offered the 911 board member training was in 2016.