Save 911 Funding
Updated February 13, 2014
Cities, counties and 911 advocates are calling on lawmakers to reform the fee structure that funds 911 systems. Kentucky 911 services are funded primarily through revenues from landline and wireless user fees. As more Kentuckians phase out landline use, cities and counties are faced with declining revenues for 911 services. The wireless fee, which is set by the Kentucky state legislature, has not changed since 1998. This outdated funding structure has created a shortfall for an essential emergency service.
House Bill 391 updates the funding stream to help replenish the resources that have steadily declined over the last decade. It simply aligns 911 user fees with modern day use and makes some common-sense reforms to update our systems with today's technologies.
The 911 funding reform legislation will increase the current monthly statewide wireless fee from 70-cents to $1.00. The 70-cent statewide 911 wireless fee has not changed since its inception in 1998. According to the Consumer Price Index calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 cents in 1998 would equal $1.00 in 2013 dollars.
U.S. Census data reports that one in three homes no longer has a landline. In 1996, 96 percent of U.S. homes had land lines. The trend of more people forgoing landlines in favor of cellular services is only expected to grow.
Statewide, about 70 percent of 911 calls come from cell phones, compared to 30 percent from landlines. The ratio skews even more heavily in favor of cell phones in more urban areas. However, revenue from wireless devices only accounts for about 20 percent of 911 revenues. To further complicate the issue, the prevalence of cell phones has increased 911 call volume tremendously.
Local governments are now filling the funding gap by providing more than 48 percent of funding for 911 services from general funds. As Kentuckians continue to shift toward cell phones and drop their landline phones, the shortfall continues to expand. The fastest growing segment of cellphone users are prepaid users, but those with prepaid cellphones are not paying as much as traditional cellphone users. In 2006, amendments to 911 funding statutes created a disparity between prepaid and postpaid wireless subscribers, which has cost local governments nearly $21 million in prepaid wireless monies. Overall, local governments have lost approximately $42 million in general fund revenues since the 2006 amendments were enacted.
House Bill 391 will end the disparity between prepaid and postpaid mobile wireless subscribers by requiring prepaid users to pay the equivalent of the statewide wireless fee. In addition, the legislation includes a transparency provision that clearly outlines how 911 funds may be used.
The following organizations are supportive of this legislation:
Kentucky League of Cities
Kentucky Association of Counties
Kentucky Firefighters Association
Kentucky Fire Chiefs Association
Kentucky Professional Firefighters Association
Kentucky Fire Commission
Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police
Kentucky Sheriffs Association
Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association
Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association
Fraternal Order of Police
911 Funding Legislation Filed
Ask your legislators to Vote YES on House Bill 391