Mpls budget committee finds funds for two more 911 operators

In October of this year, Heather Hunt, director of Minneapolis emergency communications told members of the City Council that the department needs more 911 operators to keep up with national standards. Her request came soon after the mass shooting at Accent Signage. Hunt said while operators performed well under the circumstances, the event highlighted the need for more staff. According to call records, several people at or near the shooting scene hung up while waiting for a 911 operator to pick up the call.

Today, the city council’s Ways and Means Budget committee voted to amend the proposed 2013 budget to include funding for two more full time employees. Committee chair Betsy Hodges offered the amendment and says it was inspired by Hunt’s appearance before the committee two months ago.

“When Ms. Hunt came she made a compelling case for the need for additional staffing in that department, in order to avoid burnout among our current operators and to decrease use of overtime,” said Hodges.

One committee member opposed the plan because it pays for the new 911 operators by taking $110,000 from the Human Resources department. Council member Elizabeth Glidden said she had serious concerns about the measure because it would mean cutting one position out of HR.

The committee also passed an amendment that would keep six Community Crime Prevention Specialists that were due to be cut under Mayor Rybak’s proposed budget. The amendment directs the police department to use $510,000 of unused money from 2011 and other savings to pay for the positions.

The full council will vote on the newly amended budget next week.

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