911 surcharge could increase | SteamboatToday.com

911 surcharge could increase

Communications center looks to raise fee from 70 cents to $1.25 per call

Alexis DeLaCruz

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

The charge, in place since 2000, would increase from 70 cents a call to $1.25 a call.

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

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

At the Oak Creek Town Board on Thursday night, Men–doza said increasing the surcharge would raise nearly $214, 000 for the center.

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

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The rest of Routt County’s Enhanced 911 or E-911 system is being subsidized 81 percent 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 system, she said.

A fee of $1.25 is the maximum amount the county could charge, she said.

In Colorado, the 911 system is organized and funded on the county level, not the state level. Routt County Communications began charging the 911 surcharge in 2000, after the Routt County Board of County Commissioners approved a resolution allowing the 70-cent charge.

Although 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, when the center received about 21,000 calls for service.

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 being provided prevents the county from providing other essential services to its residents.

Mendoza said projections from the Routt County Ac—-counting Department forecast that the county would not be able to adequately fund the center after 2017.

The Steamboat Springs City Council, Routt Coun–ty Board of County Com–missioners, Routt County Communications Advisory Board, Routt County EMS Advisory Council and Oak Creek Town Board have agreed to support the increased surcharge.

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

— To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com