Changing technology threatens to undermine the funding of a vital public service in many Missouri counties. A group of organizations is taking a new direction to solve the problem.
The 9-1-1 call centers can be funded with a surcharge on land-line based telephones. But more and more Missourians are giving up their land lines and are relying on wireless devices. Missourians twice have rejected statewide taxes on cellphone services to make the emergency call centers better able to handle wireless calls for help as well as regular landline calls.
County officials have been briefed on a new initiative for the next legislative session that would let counties ask voters to approve wireless device taxes to finance local emergency call and disaptch services. Callaway County Colmmissioner Doc Kritzer says it’s a proposal borne out of a lack of confidence the legislature will solve the problem statewide.
But, he says, the legislature insists a user fee on wireless devices is a tax, and that requires a vote.
He and other hope lawmakers will be more willing to let voters decide the issue county-by-county. He says it would be up to county officials and emergency responders to convince the public to adopt the fees.