Changing 911 surcharge cap - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE; KLKNTV.com

Changing 911 surcharge cap

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By: Cole Miller
cmiller@klkntv.com 

If you own a phone, you help fund 911 centers in your area. Now, one state lawmaker wants to simplify the way things are done. 

It's a phone call we hope we never have to address. But when emergencies arise, we rely on 911 centers to send help. To keep them working smoothly, a monthly surcharge on both land line and cell phones is added.

However, the surcharge in Douglas County is lower than the other 92 counties, because by law, Douglas County is capped at a certain rate. That's where senator Bob Krist is stepping in.

"The bill would remove the cap for Douglas County surcharges as this is holding down funding for a regional 911 operations center in Douglas County," Krist said.

Mark Conrey, the director for Douglas County's 911 center explains in more detail.

"We have lost probably about $400,000 a year in revenue for 911," Conrey said.

For example, Douglas County can only charge up to 50 cents per wireless phone number. Whereas other counties can charge up to 70 cents.

"We'd like to be treated the same as every other county in the state," Jack Cheloha with the City of Omaha said.

Krist says centers across the state can then team up to put the money where it's most needed.

"My hope is they can come together with a common levy and say 'Where does the money go? Where does it need to be spent?' and together with the Lieutenant Governor's committee on communications, we can establish better communication throughout the state," Krist said.

Krist introduced the exact same bill last session, it made it to the floor but was never really discussed due to time constraints. The committee took no immediate action on the bill Monday.

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