TOPEKA — Users of landlines and wireless devices will be charged the same monthly fee to support 911 emergency services under a bill passed by the Senate on Thursday.
The fees are different now for different devices: 75 cents a month for landline phones and 25 cents a month for wireless devices. Senate Bill 50 would make the fees 50 cents a month for all such devices.
Money collected monthly by phone companies and wireless providers would be remitted to the local administrator of 911 services.
The bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, if it becomes law. It now goes to the House.
A fee on prepaid wireless service would remain at 1 percent of the retail transaction.
The bill allows the Department of Revenue to retain as much as $70,000 of the revenue generated from prepaid wireless purchases in 2012 to pay for one-time costs of establishing the system by which wireless fees are collected.
The percentage of the revenue directed to each county would vary based on the cost to provide 911 service. Every county would receive a minimum of $50,000, which is a significant increase for some of the least populous counties in the state.
Sedgwick County would receive $2.7 million annually to provide 911 services, based on 2009 numbers of cell phones and landlines.
The county would get $107,605 less than projected under the current system, but senators from Wichita said they are comfortable with the legislation.
Sen. Mike Petersen, R-Wichita, said the projections were based on statistics that have changed dramatically. He said more people have cell phones and other devices that can call 911 than in 2009, which would increase revenue in Sedgwick County.
Petersen said he consulted with the director of 911 services in Sedgwick County, who was in favor of the bill.
Sedgwick County, and any other county that experienced a deficit in funds to pay for the service, could apply for grant money collected by the state.