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County voters to decide on 911 surcharge hike

November 3, 2012
By John Speer - Editor , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"I hope you look at it as a taxpayer and realize anytime you dial 911, it's been a dollar a month, for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks a year (coverage)," Ryan Currens Tama County E911 and Emergency Management coordinator said on Monday, Oct. 29.

Tama County telephone users have not had an increase in their 911 support surcharge of the one dollar per month since the system was developed in the early 1990s, he said.

That could change with a proposed temporary increase to $2 monthly if Tama County voters approve. The measures is on the ballot in the Nov. 6 Iowa General Election. The increase would be collected only up to 24 months, if approved. The charge then returns to one dollar monthly. A simple majority vote is required for passage.

Article Photos

Ryan Currens
Tama County E911 coordinator

In making the case for the jump to $2 monthly, Currens said Tama County has been faced with the federally-mandated change to narrow banding which has cost $113,000, so far. He said more improvements will be needed in the next couple of years, as well.

A total of 12 fire departments, six city-operated ambulance services and two city first responder units rely upon the system

along with the sheriff's office and four police departments.

The county currently collects about $80,000 annually from the fee, Currens said.

However the ongoing change to cellular telephones and the abandonment of landlines has placed the amount tending downward.

Currens said the State of Iowa collects the 911 fee for cellular phones and Tama County E911 receives 32-36 cents support per a month from their usage.



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