Lawmakers due back in Jackson Tuesday|[01/01/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 1, 2007

Mississippi House preparesfor early work on budget

Vicksburg’s legislative delegation may be asked again this year to push for an increase in the monthly surcharge tacked onto cell phone bills to pay for 911 dispatch services.

Supervisors have said an additional $1.50 to $2 is needed to pay for operating the center, now funded by $1 per line charges for cell and residential lines and a $2 charge per business lines.

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The last time any of the charges was increased was 2001, when residential rates were raised from 80 cents and business lines were raised from $1.66.

As with the 2006 request by Warren County officials, opposition is expected from anti-tax advocates in the Legislature, plus Gov. Haley Barbour.

Another issue needing resolution is whether the state Public Service Commission would allow different counties to impose different 911 fees.

Those on the Vicksburg Warren County E-911 Commission and dispatch director Geoffrey Greetham have said up to 57 percent of the calls the center receives come from cell phones.

Warren County voters agreed in 1989 to pay monthly surcharges on phone bills to fund then-new technology that provided the names and addresses of those who dialed 911 seeking emergency services.

When the center was created, the fees plus funds from city and county treasuries paid the salaries of dispatchers, the cost of equipment and overhead expenses, plus fees for use of the phone system database.

Through the years, the subsidy has increased and will pay about a third of the $1.2 million E-911 Dispatch Center budget for this year.

In other requests voiced to local legislators, supervisors want: