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Erie County wants state to provide 911 surcharge money

Erie County Executive Collins at the county's Public Safety building
WBFO News photo by Ashley Hassett
Erie County Executive Collins at the county's Public Safety building

By Ashley Hassett

Buffalo, NY – Erie County executive Chris Collins joined forces with central police services in demanding the state provide the county with funds generated from a 911 surcharge.

The state collects a wireless 911 fee through a monthly surcharge on cell phones bills. It is supposed to be transferred to county governments to pay for 911 services and technology upgrades. Instead, the money is regularly raided by the state. Collins said the funding could help upgrade the County's 911 system.

"When upgrades are available and the timing is good right now, technology has done quite a bit in the last couple years. What's available today frankly wasn't available three to five years ago. So, from a timing stand point this is actually a sweet spot. We can learn from perhaps issues that arose with some earlier technology upgrades, and right now it's a matter like everything else we need the money," said Collins.

Collins said the 911 system has not been updated in 21 years and is long overdue for an upgrade.

"As technology continues to improve every year, New York State should be sending counties the money that we are due paid by people using their phones to enhance our 911 capabilities. Every month when people pay their cell phone bills we know, that they think that the money is going to be used for what it is intended. I urge-- we all urge Governor elect Andrew Cuomo to right this wrong," said Collins.

Collins noted if the state does not equally distribute the money owed, tax payers will end up footing the bill.