Wednesday, November 6, 2013

County rejects new 25-cent phone fee

Money would have gone to state 911 grant fund

Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County residents will not be paying any additional fees on their phone bills anytime soon.
    Following only brief discussion, the Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday declined to pass a resolution allowing the county to assess an additional 25-cent fee to help fund improvements to its 911 emergency communications system. The county already collects a $1 monthly fee that raises $400,000 annually for that purpose.

We’ve got three to five years before we need to make any big decisions.”
Jacob Greenberg
Blaine County commissioner

    The additional 25-cent fee would have been pooled in the state’s Dedicated Enhanced Emergency Communications Grant Fee Fund, which is distributed to counties by the Idaho Emergency Communications Commission. Idaho law does not permit a county to collect and spend more than $1 per month from phone bills on its own.
    The commissioners cited a lack of assurance that the county would receive as much back from the program as it would be putting into it as one reason to hold off on participating. They also said they would like to see a detailed capital funding plan from the county’s communications director before assessing any higher fees.
    “We’ve got three to five years before we need to make any big decisions,” Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said.
    The county can join the grant program anytime it wants to, though it must do so at least one year before the grants are distributed each November. It can also withdraw from the program whenever it chooses.
Greg Moore:

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