ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – The St. Charles County Council could soon approve an emergency bill to hire specially-trained contract employees for emergency calls and 911 dispatch operations.

County Executive Steve Ehlmann says the emergency bill will be introduced to the council on Monday as the county deals with a prolonged shortage of dispatchers.

If approved, the emergency bill would authorize the county to contract with Moetivations, Inc., which provides certified 911 dispatchers to staff the phones to relieve the pressures of short-staffing on existing call takers.

“We will continue to try to hire more people,” Ehlmann says. “This is a stop-gap measure.”

The bill would allow St. Charles County to offer the highest starting pay of any dispatch agency in the St. Louis region. Currently, the county dispatch system is 10 dispatchers short of being fully-staffed at 44 positions.

“This is a proactive step,” Ehlmann says. “Our response times have not been affected. We’ve been able to maintain our standards, and we want to keep it that way.”

Under the plan, the county would be authorized to hire eight contract dispatchers with a budget of around $518,000 for six months. For comparison, eight dispatchers working as regular county employees for the same period would be around $369,000/

The proposal would also allow the contract to be extended, if needed, for two additional three-month periods.

It would help prevent burnout among dispatchers working overtime and maintain our staffing requirements. We try to fill these positions, but when we can’t, we overwork the people who are there,” said Council Chair Terry Hollander, the bill’s sponsor.

The St. Charles County Emergency Communications Fund would help with funding this plan. It’s unclear how soon the plan would take effect if approved.