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Town Mgr. Simms voices support to 9-1-1 excise tax increase

Town of Lakeview Mgr. Ray Simms recently issued correspondence with state dignitaries voicing support for an increase in the 9-1-1 excise tax that helps to support statewide 9-1-1 operations.

The excise tax is assessed to all land line-based and most cell phone services, and at present stands at $0.50 per line. Simms recommends an increase of 40 percent to $1.25 per line, a figure that would make up for declining state funding for 9-1-1 centers.

This could mean an estimated extra $100,000 for 9-1-1 operations, though it wouldn’t necessarily be a direct correlation to the state funds received locally, Simms said.

In his correspondence, Simms noted that the Town of Lakeview has operated its 9-1-1 center since the inception of the 9-1-1 emergency communications system. The local center is operated in conjunction with the Town of Lakeview Fire Department. The cost for two-person, 24-hour coverage of the 9-1-1 center’s operations is split on a basis of 38 percent by the Town and the remaining 62 percent is funded by the 9-1-1 excise tax distribution from the state.

This tax is issued to the Town of Lakeview, Lake County government and the City of Paisley, Simms said, and falls about $80,000 short of funding the system at present. An additional $50,000 in annual assessments is collected from the major users of the dispatch system to help close the gap in funding, along with reserve funds that are expected to be depleted by the end of the 2013/14 budget year, Simms said.

The Town’s annual 9-1-1 budget averages about $320,000, he said.

The excise tax amount is renewed periodically, Simms said, and unless reauthorized will expire as of June 30.

“My interest is, first, it needs to be reauthorized,” he said. “Otherwise, there’s no (state) funding mechanism for 9-1-1.”

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