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      Building a future for Ralls County 911

      The Ralls County 911 Board is exploring ways to save taxpayers money.

      The board entered a lease agreement in 2006 with the RCEC Community Foundation.

      RCEC owns the New London, Mo. building that houses the Ralls County 911 center.

      A promissory note obtained through a Freedom of Information request states the Ralls County 911 board will pay off the $540,000 principal amount over the course of 40 years at a 4.25 percent interest rate.

      The county pays RCEC almost $29,000 per year to occupy the building.

      The Ralls County 911 board has formed a committee to explore various alternatives to refinance its building lease.

      "At the end of 40 years, the total we would've paid for this building is $1.2 million," board member Richard Adair said. "We now have the ability to go out to a community bank and obtain a loan at a much lower interest rate - 3 or 3 1/2 percent for better terms, pay less each year and only have to pay for 20 years instead of 40. It's no different than anyone refinancing their home. We should save the taxpayers anywhere around $500,000 to $600,000 depending on when it's done."

      That subcommittee comprises Richard Adair, Lowell Jackson and Raymond Reed.

      Last November, Ralls County taxpayers approved a tax increase for the 911 center. The rate went from a half a percent to 1 percent. Adair said that's the maximum amount a 911 center can ask for in the State of Missouri.

      "There is no going back to the taxpayers and asking for more money," Adair said. "We have to do the things that are smart and build a foundation so subsequent boards are never in a position to have to be almost broke. It's a taxpayer's money. We have to be good stewards of that."

      Right now, the Marion County 911 center in Hannibal handles Ralls County's 911 services while the board is in the process of hiring a new 911 director.