9-1-1 centers across the Tri-States are running out of money. More people are cutting landline phones and the money 9-1-1 used to collect from those lines is drying up.
"Probably about 75-80% of our calls in 2000 were from landline phones. Today, it's the other way around, about 75-80% of our calls to 911 come from cellular phones," said Steve Rowlands, director for the Quincy/Adams County Communications Center.
That switch in trends is what Rowlands says led to less funding for 911 centers in the area.
"The wireless surcharge is not as high as the landline surcharge," said Rowlands. "So, as someone drops a landline phone for a wireless phone the revenue doesn't keep up. "
That is forcing 911 centers across the Tri-States to come up with the difference or face cuts.
In McDonough County, for example, they've already had to cut back on staff training because of reduced funds.
"Where we've noticed the decline is being able to train those people. We're not allowed to send them quite as far and near as often as we'd like to," said Jessica Shoopmen, director for the Macomb/McDonough County Communications Center.
Residents in McDonough County are currently paying $1.40 surcharge for landlines and about .75 cents surcharge for wireless.
But, from that .75 cents, the 911 center is only receiving about .50 cents...the rest going to the carrier.
"We've been looking at actually raising it to getting maybe .72 cents of that surcharge," said Shoopmen. "That way the public doesn't see it as a tax increase."
Illinois lawmakers have proposed an extra 30 cent 911 surcharge on your cell phone bill, but they've yet to make a decision on the idea.
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