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Missouri could add wireless recovery tax for 911 calls

By Ashley Strohmier, Reporter, ashley.strohmier@kmiz.com
Published On: Mar 31 2014 06:58:30 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 31 2014 07:02:47 PM CDT

ABC 17's Ashley Strohmier reports on a possible tax for 911 calls made on wireless devices.

Mid-Missouri -

When you look at your cell phone bill, you know there's a list of additional charges, fees, and taxes you
pay each month.

While there is a tax on landline emergency calls, there's no tax on 911 calls from wireless devices.

The increase in calls has led to a lack of funding for 911 services in some counties.

Missouri is the only state without a wireless recovery fee for 911 emergency calls.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Nichols said the tax is something that smaller counties desperately need.

Nichols said in order for smaller counties like Randolph to keep funding for 911 services in order, there needs to be a tax.

He said right now they're taking money out of the general revenue fund.

With Missouri being the last state not to adopt a wireless tax on 911 calls, organizations such as Missouri counties refer to it as being "behind and outdated."

They said without some kind of legislative action this session, Missouri will once again go another year dipping into general revenue funds.

Boone County Joint Communications Manager, Brian Maydwell said the majority of today's 911 calls come from wireless devices.

"They're the most prevalently used when dialing 911. Some counties as high as 89%. Boone County is right
around 80%," said Maydwell.

He said if the bill passes in the legislature this year it would add an additional $1.50 to your cell phone
bill each year.

He said legislation has tried to pass this bill before.

"They've thrown some measures together in the past that haven't worked for whatever reason, but it actually takes the voters to vote this in."

Nichols said on a monthly average, almost 80% of the calls in Randolph county come from cell phones.

The county has had to take money out of the general revenue fund just to keep the emergency services going.

"With the cell phones, it is hurting the 911 centers."

Officials said without a tax on wireless 911 calls, the money goes to alternative sources such as the providers of cell phones. 

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