Mobile phone surcharge not funding emergency dispatch as intended, Sheriff says
Submitted by Howard Owens on May 17, 2010 - 9:21pm
If you have a mobile phone in New York, each month you pay a $1.20 surcharge for "New York State Public Safety" that you might think goes to pay for emergency dispatch.
If you think that, you're mistaken, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.
Last year, the surcharge generated $210 million in revenue, of which about $9 million was allocated to dispatch centers.
The balance of the fund, Maha said, goes straight into the state's General Fund for any number of non-law-enforcement related purposes.
Last year, Genesee County -- which spends $2 million each year to operate its dispatch center -- received just $38,000 from this fund.
“We need to keep the pressure on the state that this money should be used for what it’s intended for and not used to pay for general fund expenses," Maha told the County's Public Safety Committee today.
The committee passed a draft resolution to send to the State Legislature asking them to use the money according to its intended purposes.
The fund used to be called the 9-1-1 Surcharge, but even with the "public safety" label, the revenue is rarely being used to pay for public safety expenses, Maha said.
There is also a county-collected 35-cent surcharge on landlines for the dispatch center. But increasingly, people are abandoning landlines in favor of mobile phones, cutting down significantly on the amount of revenue this fund generates, Maha said.
Governor Paterson has proposed that $50 million from the surcharge monies, or about 21 percent, be made available to county 9-1-1 centers, Maha said.
The proposal has met with stiff opposition in the State Legislature.
The State Assembly proposes that only $8 million above last year's $9.3 million funding be provided to county 9-1-1 centers. Many think that the Legislature will take all of these monies to help fill the approximately $9 billion budget deficit facing the state, Maha said.
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