Westmoreland County officials push for more 911 funding
Westmoreland County Public Safety Department officials and county commissioners met with state legislators Wednesday afternoon to lobby for an increase of state funding for the 911 emergency call system.
Counties throughout Pennsylvania receive state funding for their 911 systems through a $1.25 surcharge assessed to every land line telephone.
The state also collects $1 for every cellphone and wireless line. A percentage of that money is forwarded to counties.
Wireless phones, though, have outpaced the use of land lines in recent years. And the state law that authorized the $1 wireless phone surcharge for 911 is due to expire on June 30.
“We're in a very bad spot,” said Brian Jones, the public safety director for Westmoreland County.
The county collected $3.2 million from the wireless phone surcharge last year, which accounted for about 38 percent of 911 center operations. Jones said more than two-thirds of all calls to the 911 center last year were made from cellphones.
Commissioners not only want the $1 surcharge reauthorized, they want it to be increased.
Local officials proposed a law that will allow counties to charge telephone users no more than $3 for 911 services, no matter whether they use landlines or cell phones.
“We're asking people to pay 75 cents more. We're talking cents here,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said of the proposed increase.
Without the additional cash, commissioners said, all capital improvement projects not yet started would have to be abandoned, dispatching services could be returned to local municipalities or county taxes might have to be increased.
“There are several options available,” Commissioner Tyler Courtney said.
State representatives Mike Reese, R-Mt. Pleasant Township; George Dunbar, R-Penn Township; and Tim Krieger, R-Delmont, along with state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, on Wednesday told commissioners they were confident the wireless surcharge would be renewed.
Reese said no legislation has been formally introduced to do so and he's aware of no plans to increase the surcharge.
Reese and the other lawmakers asked that county officials submit a clear picture of the financial ramifications of the funding problem.
“I suspect a reauthorization is likely. The real question is will there be an increase and we need a better understanding for the need. We need harder numbers,” Reese said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Audit: Westmoreland records were at risk in transfer to computer system
- Salem teen surprised with Westmoreland Fair Queen win
- Hours to be reduced at Ruffsdale post office
- 9 displaced by fire in Grapeville
- Expectant mother from Jeannette told she’ll have to stay in custody
- Latrobe girl, 4, reaches donation goal from 50 states for Alzheimer fundraising success
- Stormwater management plan stuck in stalemate in Unity, Latrobe, Derry Townships
- Greater Latrobe schedules will be available online
- Ex-worker admits to taking money from Penn Township Sewage Authority
- Police look for Derry driver who crashed into house
- Catholic Diocese of Greensburg injunction becomes permanent