New 911 Services Advisory Board member appointed

UNION COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - One of Union County's own will soon be influencing the future of 9-1-1 in the State of Illinois.

On October 18, Governor Pat Quinn filed paperwork with the Secretary of State appointing Jana Fear to the 9-1-1 Services Advisory Board.

The 9-1-1 Services Advisory Board is an 11-member panel selected by the Governor to work with the Illinois Commerce Commission to make recommendations to the General Assembly regarding the long-term funding and planning for 9-1-1. Fear, the coordinator of Union County 9-1-1, was appointed to represent counties with populations under 50,000.

"Jana is an excellent choice for this position," said Grant Capel, director of the Union County Ambulance Service and vice chairman of the county's Emergency Telephone Services Board. "Her perspective in understanding the needs of a small 9-1-1 system and the financial challenges we face in a rural area will help others understand that a more uniform way of financial revenue needs to be developed and implemented in the state to insure the viability of this vital service."

Those revenue needs are one of the main issues on which the Advisory Board will be making recommendations to the General Assembly. Most direct funding for 9-1-1 services comes from taxes on landline telephone usage but over the last decade, more and more households have been moving to wireless phones—which are taxed at a much lower rate—and revenues have dwindled as a result. While larger counties have been able to absorb these costs, 9-1-1 departments in smaller counties like Union are being stretched thin.

"My goal is to accurately represent small counties who are struggling and positively influence legislation to alleviate the revenue shortfall," said Fear. "It's not going to be easy but this at least gives us a voice."