911 service to increase fee | SteamboatToday.com

911 service to increase fee

Alexis DeLaCruz

— Editor’s Note: The 911 surcharge is a monthly fee charged to phone bills. A story on Page 1 of Saturday’s Steamboat Today incorrectly stated how the fee is applied.

Routt County Communications wants to increase the surcharge for 911 by nearly 80 percent.

The charge, in place since 2000, would increase from 70 cents to $1.25. The charge is applied monthly to all wired and wireless phone bills.

Communications Director Faith Mendoza said she wants to submit the application for the increased surcharge to the Public Utilities Commission by mid-May. The Public Utilities Commission will decide whether to approve the increase.

Mendoza is meeting with municipalities throughout the county to discuss the increase.

At the Oak Creek Town Board meeting Thursday night, Mendoza said increasing the surcharge would raise nearly $214, 000 for the center.

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Mendoza said the current 911 surcharge covers only 19 percent of the funds needed to “equip, maintain and replace a fully functional telephone service and the related communication system it requires.”

The rest of Routt County’s Enhanced 911 system is subsidized by property taxes.

The money generated from the increased surcharge would be used to improve infrastructure, upgrade the phone system and enable the reverse 911 community notification system, she said.

Increasing the fee to $1.25 would be the maximum amount the county could charge, Men–doza said.

In Colorado, the 911 system is organized and funded on the county level. Routt County Communications initiated the 911 surcharge in 2000, after the Routt County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution allowing the 70-cent charge.

Even though the 911 surcharge has not increased since 2000, the amount of calls the center receives has.

In 2005, the center fielded about 49,600 calls, a 130 percent increase from 1995.

Mendoza said the center cannot sustain that level of support because of Routt County’s increasing population and need for service; the escalating cost of providing the services; and because the level of support provided prevents the county from providing other essential services.

Mendoza said projections from the Routt County Accounting Department forecast that the county will not be able to fund the center after 2017.

The Steamboat Springs City Council, Routt County Board of Commissioners, Routt County Communications Advisory Board, Routt County EMS Advisory Council and Oak Creek Town Board already have agreed to support the increase.

Mendoza said she plans to meet with the Hayden and Yampa town boards in May to discuss obtaining their support, as well.