A state board plans to take a look today at the surcharges used to operate 9-1-1 services in Iowa’s counties. Iowans pay from 25 cents to one dollar in charges to fund the enhanced 9-1-1 service that allows emergency dispatchers to located cellphone callers in emergencies.
E-9-1-1 program manager, Barbara Vos, says the surcharges are distributed to the counties, but they are not keeping up as more people get rid of their land lines in favor of cellphones. Vos says even though the money goes down to the local level, it’s not always equal to what they’re losing on the landline side.
Vos says counties face a new federal mandate to upgrade radio communications, and in some cases the landline surcharge won’t be enough to cover the cost. Raising the surcharge is one option the state board will consider. She says the state E-9-1-1 council will begin discussions on what can be done for the counties that are losing wireline surcharge because of switching over from wireline to wireless.
There were 2.1 cellphones owned in Iowa last year — up from 1.9 in 2007.