A bill filed in the Legislature would create a new statewide uniform 911 fee that could be assessed on all phones, reports the Commercial Appeal. If enacted – as seems likely – Tennessee would become one of only a handful of states which has a single 911 monthly fee.
If the bill is approved, the Volunteer State also would be among those with the highest fees, according to an analysis of the 911 funding proposal. Wireless 911 fees average about 77 cents a month.
Currently, residential and business land line 911 rates vary from 45 cents to $3 depending on what the local county 911 board sets as a monthly fee. The state 911 board sets a $1 a month fee for all cellphone and web-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) users.
State Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville is proposing a new one-size-fits-all rate of $1.16 a month no matter what type of phone someone uses under Senate Bill 2407 — “911 Funding Modernization and IP (Internet Protocol) Transition Act of 2014.” Businesses would pay $1.16 a month for each of its first 200 phone lines in a single building.
In Shelby County, residents pay 65 cents a month as a 911 fee for traditional land line phones and businesses pay $2 a month each for the first 100 lines.
…“Technology is racing ahead of what 911 was originally structured or conceived,” Norris said. “It’s land lines versus wireless versus VoIP. It’s just getting real messy.”
For more than a year, Norris and others like Tennessee Emergency Numbers Association, wireless carriers and Internet providers met and reached a compromise on the proposed legislation.
Locally, 911 districts are seeing declining revenues from landline phone users, while revenues set by the state 911 board, which controls the fees for wireless and web-based phones, are rising.
Based on the number of co-sponsors, (23 of 33 in the Senate and 62 of 99 in the House), it likely will pass.
If it does, Tennessee would join Indiana, North Carolina and Alabama in having a flat rate.