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Commissioner Courtney's Community Blog

Welcome to my Community Blog!  I hope you enjoy this opportunity to hear from me about Westmoreland County topics of interest.  Feel free to comment on the blog or contact me or my staff privately at the contact information below.  Thank you for your interest and feedback.

Tyler Courtney, Commissioner
724-830-3101
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Kristin Malie, Chief of Staff
724-830-3123
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Kristina A. Rugh, Administrative Aide
724-830-3121
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May 19

911 Emergency Telephone System Reauthorization and Reform

Posted on May 19, 2014 at 9:42 AM by Commissioner Courtney

CCAP, The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania sends updates to its members and gives brief synopsis of issues facing counties in Pennsylvania and what the group is working to achieve.  One such recent update explained the 911 emergency telephone system reauthorization and reform.  It was very informative and we are working to get the word out so we wanted to share it with you. 

“Counties have established reauthorization and reform of the 911 emergency telephone system as the top county legislative priority in 2014.  The 911 system faces significant challenges to meet rapidly changing technology requirements, a funding stream whose failure to keep pace with the need requires counties to rely both heavily and increasingly on the property tax, and the June 30, 2014, sunset of one key funding source, the wireless telephone surcharge.”

The (New) legislation provides for comprehensive system reform, keying off PEMA’s Next Gen Strategic plan and improvements in system efficiency…Next come strategic considerations, impacted in part by the short time line remaining until the June 30 wireless funding sunset. To achieve passage, counties are asked to educate their legislative delegations on systems needs…and the nature and extent of the county’s reliance on the property tax to backfill for insufficient funding.

Two focal points will be system efficiencies and subscriber fees.  Counties are supporting system efficiencies, including the removal of outdated statutory requirements that impede efficient administration, and incentives for consolidation of core system functions…The subscriber fee structure is also under review; the current structure is a monthly surcharge on wireline, wireless and VoIP subscribers ranging from $1-$1.50 per month for wireline, and set at $1 per month for wireless and VoIP.  The wireline fees have not changed since passage in 1990 and the wireless and VoIP fees although adopted later, were keyed to the 1990 wireline rates.

The intent of the original law was to fully fund counties’ eligible 911 costs, with presumption that counties would have an initial capital cost to install the systems, and the funds would be used for system operation and periodic equipment replacement.  What was unforeseen was the onslaught of the technological change.  Capital costs, unanticipated in both their size and frequency, increasingly require local property tax dollars to backfill the shortfall in subscriber fees.  The need to address the funding stream is immediate, and will reach crisis proportions if action is delayed past the June 30 expiration of the wireless telephone subscriber surcharges.” 

As always, your feedback is important and we look forward to receiving it.

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