911 Call Centers to Split $2.9 Million in Kentucky
Kentucky’s 911 call centers, also known as public safety answering points (PSAPs), will receive more than $2.9 million from litigation initiated by the state’s Commercial Mobile Radio Services Board (CMRS), Governor Steve Beshear announced Tuesday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that TracFone Wireless Inc. improperly withheld payment of 911 service fees to the CMRS Board. The company had disputed the application of the state 911 fee on prepaid cellphone service. In total, the Commonwealth has recovered more than $4 million in unremitted state required 911 cellphone fees.
“In an emergency, nothing is more important than being able to immediately call for help. These funds will ensure that Kentuckians get the help they need when they call 911,” Beshear said in a news release.
The total represents 911 fees on TracFone’s prepaid cell phones in Kentucky from July 2006 to October 2013.
The recovered funds will be divided according to a statutory formula used to distribute funds received by the CMRS Board from a state 911 fee of 70 cents per month on cell phones.
Cellphone service providers collect the fees and remit the amounts to the CMRS Board. There are currently 118 certified PSAPs in the state that have the capacity to answer wireless 911 calls. Applying the distribution formula will result in PSAPs receiving more than $2.9 million. The balance of the funds is divided by formula into the CMRS grant fund and a Cost Recovery fund for service providers.
“911 services are facing a funding crisis because revenues from local 911 fees on landline phones have shrunk dramatically in the last few years as the number of landlines has decreased,” said Joe Barrows, executive director of the CMRS board, in a news release. “This distribution will provide some much-needed assistance for this critical public safety service.”
The CMRS Board annually distributes around $18 million in 911 fees to certified PSAPs for operational costs and equipment at local 911 call centers. These CMRS funds support about 20 percent of the cost of providing 911 services throughout the state with local governments paying the balance.