SHAWNEE - Pottawatomie County Commissioner Jerry Richards said he's not willing to call for an election for countywide enhanced 911 service until the rate is fair for those living in rural areas. The commissioners tabled two resolutions Tuesday calling for an election. The first would have asked voters to consider approving a 50-cent charge on their monthly cell phone bills for enhanced 911 through their cellular phones. The second, which has been a source of controversy between Shawnee city officials and Pottawatomie County commissioners, would levy a charge on wire-based telephones for enhanced 911 service. Richards said that while he supported the enhanced 911 initiative for cellular services, he did not support charging some rural residences as much at 15 percent of their base rate for the service on land lines. The increase would be $1.50 to $3 a month, based on the different rates for each community. Residents of Shawnee already pay 3 percent of their base telephone rate to have enhanced 911 service on land lines. City officials have made it clear that they are not willing to ask Shawnee voters to raise their rate to offset the cost for those living in the rural areas. Tecumseh residents pay 5 percent of their base telephone rate for enhanced 911 service. Richards said he thinks the proposed increase for rural residents can be shaved to 10 percent. Don Lynch, enhanced 911 project committee member and Shawnee emergency management director, said 15 percent would raise about $74,000 for providing the service to those living in areas that don't have enhanced 911. All county residents have basic 911 service. Enhanced 911 would give emergency services an exact location of the call when it is received by a dispatcher. "This is an important public safety issue, because it cuts down on response time and can save lives," Lynch said. Lynch said the 50-cent fee for wireless enhanced 911 services countywide would generate about $189,000. He said that money would be allocated to the municipalities offering the service, based on the number of cell phone customers who live in each city.
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