Pottawatomie County voters on Tuesday will decide whether to pay 50 percent more in the fees currently paid for landline 911 tariffs to further improve the county’s 911 system. If passed, most residential customers will pay 48 to 88 cents more each month in tariff fees.
The election mostly affects voters outside of the Shawnee city limits, although some residents just outside the city with Shawnee phone numbers also are affected.
Tommy Arnold, director of the Pottawatomie County E-911 Center, said residents who have Shawnee phone numbers in the 273, 275, 878 or 214 exchange and also live outside of the city limits of Shawnee are included in the county 911 service area just like those living in Bethel Acres, Tecumseh, Maud, Tribbey, Pearson, Wanette, Earlsboro, and McLoud.
The county currently collects a 10 percent fee of the landline telephone tariff rate for purposes of providing and operating 911 services. For most customers, that tariff is a tax that ranges from 95 cents each month on the low side in Maud to the highest rate of $1.75 per month for customers in Tecumseh. The amounts vary based on different phone service providers in the county.
The ballot asks voters to approve the maximum tariff amount allowed for landlines, which is a 15 percent tariff rather than the current 10 percent being collected. If approved, customers will pay 50 percent more in tariff fees than what they are paying right now, which amounts to anything from 48 cents to 88 cents more each month.
The additional tariff is being requested for operations of enhanced 911 services and equipment, Arnold said, and to increase capabilities such as having the ability for texting 911 services and upgrading to next generation 911 equipment.
At 10 percent, the Pottawatomie County E-911 system collected about $121,131.93 for the first six months of the fiscal year that started in July 2012.
Based on those collections, a tariff increase from 10 to 15 percent could bring in about $120,000 in additional funding each year, although Arnold said collected 911 tariff fees have been on the decline because of decreases in landline phones. Arnold said they are losing about $30,000 each year from a reduction in the number of landline phones.
The election on Tuesday falls on the same day many county voters also head to the polls for annual school board elections.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Estimated landline 911 fee increase for Residential customers
• Bethel Acres/Tecumseh: $1.13 to $1.70 per month.
• Maud: 95 cents to $1.43 per month.
• Wanette: $1.21 to $1.82 per month.
• McLoud exchange: $1.13 to $1.69 per month.
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• Earlsboro: $1.69 to $2.53 per month.
• Tribbey: $1.48 to $2.22 per month.
• Pearson: $1.68 to $2.52 per month.
• Tecumseh: $1.75 to $2.63 per month.