TECUMSEH — A tariff increase for 911 services in Pottawatomie County that was defeated last month may get new life this fall.
The tariff increase failed by just 102 votes on Feb. 12, a day that saw cold, wet day throughout much of central Oklahoma. Only 724 of the registered 30,000 voters in the county came out to cast ballots on the tariff increase.
The increase would have been applied to residential and business phone lines. Pottawatomie County 911 Chairman J.R. Kidney said the increase would have been about 60 cents for a residential line and about $1.80 for a business line.
The increased tariff would have paid for training and upgrades to equipment, Kidney said. A new fire and medical dispatch system recently was implemented and a new police system will be active soon. Still, Kidney said, the agency will make do.
“There's nothing that will hamper the safety of our citizens, but we may not get the latest and greatest version of something because we can't afford it,” he said.
Money from phone line tariffs brings in about $120,000 per year for the county 911 services.
Kidney said the decline in landlines in homes has reduced that revenue in the last decade.
The 911 tariff for cellphones is about half what it would be for a landline.
“With so many people turning off their home phones on a daily basis, we lose money whenever that happens,” Kidney said.
He said there is a chance the tariff could be put back on the ballot this fall. He said given the low voter turnout came on a bad weather day, the results could be different.
“Where I voted in Tecumseh, it was the only thing on the ballot,” Kidney said. “It wasn't highly publicized. Less than a thousand people voted in the entire county. I think a lot of things just combined to keep it from passing.”
Today's technology is built and developed from the 1950s. It's not easily upgradable to current technologies. As we move forward, we will need systems that can be easily upgraded and changed out.”