Warren Co. supervisors want to increase cell phone fee for 911

Published 9:47 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2006

If approved by the Legislature, which convenes Jan. 2, the monthly surcharge would rise to $2.50 or $3.

The increase would be proposed in a Local and Private bill, a piece of legislation that affects only one community and does not change general state laws.

Warren County voters agreed in 1989 to pay a monthly surcharge on phone bills to fund then-new technology that provided the names and addresses of those who dialed 911 seeking emergency services.

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Officials have said the surcharge has not been sufficient to fund the entire cost of a consolidated city-county dispatch center created when the technology became available.

After a one-year surge to $1.8 million to acquire new equipment, the E-911 center has a budget of about $1.2 million this year. It requires $600,000 from local governments, with the remainder coming from phone surcharges that are now $1 per cell line, $1 per residential line and $2 per business line.

County Administrator John Smith said the use of wired lines is declining and that of cell phones is increasing with the rates of change resulting in a net loss of revenue for the dispatch center.

Supervisor David McDonald cited E-911 records showing the center receives 57 percent of its calls from cell phones.

ā€œIā€™m a believer in the people that use something ought to be the ones that pay for it,ā€ McDonald said.

Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, said there would be issues to resolve, including whether the state Public Service Commission would allow different areas to impose different fees.