The Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA) and AT&T have reached an agreement on a settlement to claims that the company overpaid MECA for about five years.

The Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association (MECA) and AT&T have reached an agreement on a settlement to claims that the company overpaid MECA for about five years.


During a meeting of the 911 Administrative Board Tuesday, Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Karen Blevins said the company says MECA owes them $278,532.30, and at a meeting with a company representative in April, the two sides worked out a settlement.


MECA is funded on a proportional basis by user agencies and by funds received from both land line and cellular telephone companies who collect a monthly fee from customers.


The settlement calls for MECA to pay a total of $180,000 to settle the claim, with $100,000 to be paid in a lump sum and the remaining $80,000 balance to be spread out over a 24-month period. That balance will be deducted from the checks AT&T pays Jefferson County for fees the company collects on land-line customers in the county.


The meeting of the 911 Administrative Board was necessary because only that organization can authorize the expenditure of 911 funds.


"There were other areas that were overpaid a lot more than us, but AT&T has been willing to work with us," Board Chairman and White Hall Mayor Noel Foster said. "The sooner we can get behind this the better off we are."


With the transfer of $100,000 from the 911 reserve fund into the MECA budget, a balance of $207,000 remains in the reserve fund, an amount Foster said "should cover us in the event of an emergency."


For each of the 24-months the settlement is being collected, $3,333.33 will be deducted from the amount the county receives from AT&T.


Because MECA will be receiving less money from AT&T, the bills for user agencies will increase, again based on usage.


For example, Pine Bluff is the largest user of MECA and pays 70.76 percent of the agency funding. Their 2016 expenditures will increase from $666, 539 to $695,581.21. Jefferson County, which contributes 25.35 percent of the total agency funding, will be paying $249,552.95, up from $238,790.


"All of the agencies received the benefits of the over payments for the last five years," Foster said.


Following the 911 Administrative Board meeting, the MECA board met and also approved the settlement.