Several Upper Cumberland emergency districts have expressed support for a potential E-911 surcharge increase by the state.
Tennessee Emergency Number Association (TENA) President David Alexander said raising the rate to $1.50 would benefit dispatchers across the state.
“We’ve got to compensate our employees different than in 2012 or they’ll walk,” Alexander said. “They have other things they can do than listen to the troubles that we have going on in our society. It’s a lot to sit and hear an earful of this. I’m not only someone who oversees my district, I sit and take overflow calls and I hear what’s going on in our society. I hear what our people endure and I know we have to take care of our employees directly.”
The Tennessee E-911 Board hosted a public hearing Tuesday in Nashville regarding the potential increase from $1.16 to $1.50. State lawmakers decreased the surcharge from $1.50 back in 1998.
According to the Tennessee Department of Revenue, providers of prepaid wireless communication services are required to collect the surcharge.
Alexander said districts across the state had expected the surcharge to eventually increase over the years in order to meet growing needs.
“Before we went to the one-rate plan, we did have that flexibility on the local level to make these types of adjustments according to what these local needs were,” Alexander said. “In surrendering that back in 2014, we also placed a trust that in years to come, there would be adjustments made in order to help sustain where we needed to go. That’s why we need to make that appeal here.”
According to Alexander, at least nine Upper Cumberland districts and/or counties have expressed support for the notion. Alexander listed Clay, Cumberland, DeKalb, Macon, Overton/Pickett, Putnam, Warren and White counties among the 69 supporting districts, with Van Buren County expected to be added to that list.
The state E-911 board will consider making a recommendation to lawmakers during their Aug. 7 meeting in Nashville.