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News : Missouri 911 Systems in Need of Funding
Joplin, MO, USA, May 8, 2015 -- "We're struggling to fund everything right now and communication is one component of that," said Leslie Haase, Joplin Finance Director.
So Joplin's 911 Call Center is forced to tap into the city's general tax to make ends meet. It's an issue that's only going to get worse.
"The technology gets old and you have to keep up to date, and it's always expensive," said Haase.
The funding strain is even worse for other call centers relying on a fee for traditional landline phones.
"You can fund 911 through a landline tariff, which is what Newton County, Barton County, Lawrence County, a lot of the counties around us do," said April Tarrant, Jasper County Emergency Services.
So April Tarrant with Jasper County Emergency Services is working with state lawmakers to develop another option. House Bill 714 would allow a new charge that could apply to both land lines and cell phones, pending voter approval.
"Missouri is the last state in the United States not to have any funding for wireless 911, which has put a lot of our centers back in Missouri really far back, in terms of equipment and technology," said Tarrant.
The measure would also add a 911 fee to prepaid cell phone for the first time. And it would authorize a state governing board to keep tabs on local dispatch centers.
"They also hold 911 centers accountable for what they're doing with their training, and what they're doing with their technology and what they're doing with their budget," said Tarrant.
The bill has been approved in the House, but is still awaiting action in the Senate.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Monday, May 11, 2015