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The Lake News Online
  • Looking forward Camden County: Kris Franken on generating E-911 revenue

  • “E-911 revenue decline is not only a Camden County problem, but a statewide issue. The State of Missouri is the only state in the nation that does not tax cellular telephones to support their E-911 system. Currently, there are 18 counties in Missouri that do not have any type of E-911 whatsoever. That means that even if...
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  • An update of the Camden County 911 system that is currently underway should resolve the majority of current technology issues, but that does not mean the pinch on county 911 services is over. According to 911 Director Sgt. Dave Edwards, the dwindling revenue from the county's 15 percent surcharge on land line phone bills has prolonged the department's use of an outdated program.
    What the candidates for presiding commissioner say:  Camden County is experiencing a decline in E911 revenue while undergoing major upgrades to improve communications and responses for cell phone users. What is the long-term solution and what role should the county commission play in that solution?
    Incumbent Kris Franken says:
    “E-911 revenue decline is not only a Camden County problem, but a statewide issue. The State of Missouri is the only state in the nation that does not tax cellular telephones to support their E-911 system. Currently, there are 18 counties in Missouri that do not have any type of E-911 whatsoever. That means that even if we have the best E-911 possible here in Camden County, if you travel to or through one of those 18 counties that do not have an E-911 system, you are unprotected in that area.
    “While there have been two statewide ballot initiatives to attempt to institute an E-911 tax on cellular telephones, they were both defeated by wide margins. These defeats have caused the Missouri Legislature to think about correcting the problem a little differently.
    “It is important to have quality E-911 coverage statewide, but having the ability to impose a user fee on an individual county basis is better than the system that we currently have. This past session, there was an effort in the Missouri Legislature to pass a bill that would have allowed counties to vote individually on passing a tax for E-911 on cellular telephones. It was HB1573, and it did not make it through the legislative process.
    “There are essentially two ways to fund our E-911 system as the tax on land line telephones continues to diminish. One is to pass a sales tax to fund it, and the second is to get a bill similar to HB1573 passed and take thequestion to the voters of Camden County.  There are many counties in Missouri that fund their E-911 with a sales tax, but I do not think this is the best way to approach it.  I believe that getting behind a bill like HB1573 and getting it passed is the best option that the County Commission has.  Funding E-911 in this manner will place the responsibility of financial support for the E-911 system on the owners and users of cellular telephones.  Most people will agree that taxing the user base for a service is the fairest way to approach the problem.
    Page 2 of 2 - “E-911 is a unique and essential service.  It is something that all of us expect to be available at our most urgent times of need.  The cost of operating the E-911 system, not including any equipment upgrades is over $1,000,000 per year (Camden County), and $374,000 of that operating budget comes from sources other than phone taxes that support E-911.  All of the $374,000 comes from the LEST operating fund, which is transferred directly from the Sheriff’s Department.  This revenue shortfall is the reason that the current upgrade is being paid from general revenue.
    “The $374,000 that is subsidizing the E-911 budget could be put to better uses.  If our E-911 was fully funded by user fees, this $374,000 could be utilized to replace aging equipment (E-911 or other), increase the quality of the training for deputies, or any other need that the Sheriff may have.”

     
    *Editor’s Note: Candidate responses were not altered in any way. Candidates were asked to keep responses to a 500-word maximum.

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