Monday, September 26, 2011

Missouri 911 service in jeopardy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Sixteen Missouri counties have no 911 call centers,and many of those that do are insufficient.

Now, 911 directors are saying the program is in jeopardy without a new funding mechanism.

In Missouri, 911 funding is based solely on taxes taken from land line users. Missouri 911 Directors Association Lisa Schlottach says that the landline tax is not enough to sustain effective 911 service throughout the state especially when emergency personnel need to track down a cell phone user.

Schlottach says the problem is most serious in rural areas.

"We had an instance where a local police officer drive the same route to work everyday and the vehicle was overturned," Schlottach said. "And when she called 911 from her cell phone you know she had no clue where she was. In those areas and a lot of other areas actually in the state they are not going to have that capability."

Schlottach feels that wireless funding legislation is the only way to make it fair to land line users and also to be able to maintain and improve 911 services throughout the state.

"Missouri is the only state that has not passed wireless funding legislation. And there are a lot of states that have been collecting this for over ten years and that have the capabilities of 911 that Missouri does not have," she said.

The proposed amount to be added to state resident's wireless bills is 80 cents. Attempts to pass this bill through state legislation have failed in the past. But the Missouri 911 Directors Association has another bill ready for the 2011 session.

Stoddard County 911 Administrator Carole Moreland is shocked by attempts to roadblock the wireless funding tax.

"We are talking less than a dollar a month on your cell phone bill. I know everyone is taxed to death and they are tired of taxes. And I understand that I am a taxpayer too. But you are talking a dollar versus saving a life here," Moreland said.

The Missouri 911 Directors Association encourages citizens to contact their local legislators about the issue.

Hannah Parent, KRCU


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