MO bill aims to allow counties to use cell phone tax for 911 ser - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

MO bill aims to allow counties to use cell phone tax for 911 services

STODDARD COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Missouri is the only state that doesn't have a cell phone tax to help fund 911 services.

Legislators are working to change that.

A bill, making its way through the Senate, would take about 60 cents from every cell phone user to help fund dispatch services.

Some county officials say they desperately need it.

Dispatchers with Stoddard County 911 Services receive more than 1,000 calls a month.

Officials here say while 80 percent of those calls come from cell phones, cell phones provide 0 percent of the funding to keep this place up and running.

Land line phones are disappearing and so is the funding for 911 services.

“In 2020, AT&T tells us there will be no more land lines, so we have to have a replacement funding,” said Carol Moreland, the 911 Administrator for Stoddard County 911 Services.

The bill would allow counties to put the cell phone tax issue on a ballot for folks to vote on.

If passed, a maximum $1.50 would be added to each wireless bill.

“We have cut down as much as we can cut, we have cut our budget tremendously in order to keep our 911 progressing with the new technology,” said Moreland.

Technology, like 911 texting services so emergency responders can find you easier if you use a cell phone to make the call.

“When our enhanced 911 system first started we had the ability on every land line call to see where that call was coming from. As that has changed we have less and less of that, which in turn has increased the amount of time our dispatchers have to spend on every call,” David Cooper with Stoddard County's Ambulance District.

If the state doesn't pass a cell phone tax, Stoddard County Officials say they will look at passing a sales tax, arguing that citizens can't afford to lose their services.

“Technology changes every day and unfortunately we have to have the funds to the fund to keep progressing,” said Moreland.

Saline County in Illinois recently initiated their texting service in January of 2015.Officials there say the new technology has been used several times by folks lost at the Garden of the Gods, where calls are nearly impossible to make.

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