911 Funding Could Disconnect
In most counties in Missouri right now if you own a land-line, you pay your local 911 center between $.75 cents and a $1 a month.
But if you call from your cell phone, like most people do today, you're calling for free and that's why some 911 centers in mid-Missouri are in trouble.
"We are a financially challenged community, operating at a deficit," said Randolph County Commissioner Doug Galaske.
The Randolph County 911 center took 30,000 calls last year and is going broke.
Responders echo the trend there isn't enough money.
"If something is not done, a lot of these 911 centers are going to fold," said Moberly Police Commander Kevin Palmatory.
A land-line fee isn't enough anymore.
"The funding that we've set the system upon is disappearing, that land-line," said Galaske. "And what's replacing it, the cell phone, isn't contributing anything to the money, and that's what's led to the problem."
This creates other problems.
"If it happens to be a cell phone, right now at this stage in the game, we can't tell where they are," said Palmatory.
Most counties in Missouri don't have money to buy equipment to find cell phone callers.
After hearing from counties around Missouri Wednesday, the committee will hear from cell phone service providers about a solution next week and then begin drafting a report or proposal for the state legislature.
Missouri is the only state in the country without a cell phone charge for 911 calls.
Officials say Missouri 911 centers just can't afford to take cell phone calls for free.
"We're just asking them, look you've got this service, you're getting this service, just pay," said Palmatory.
14 counties in Missouri have no 911 system in place.
The committee hopes for a state-wide solution to help improve 911 centers across the board, and will submit its proposal to the legislature in December.
If a cell phone tariff bill passes it would go into effect next August.
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