County of Monmouth

June 18, 2018

County officials seek answers from State as to where imposed 9-1-1 fees went
Oppose legislation to increase current fees by 10 percent

FREEHOLD, NJ – Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, Freeholder Deputy Director Lillian G. Burry and Sheriff Shaun Golden are calling on State officials to find out why Monmouth County has not received funds collected through the 9-1-1 System and Emergency Response Trust Fund since 2010.

Monmouth County Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone speaks at the press conference asking the State of New Jersey about imposed 9-1-1 fees.The fees, which are estimated to generate $134 million statewide in 2018, are allocated to a trust fund to upgrade state, county and local 9-1-1 systems. The fees are also to be used to upgrade the infrastructure of 9-1-1 centers, also known as Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs), to be able to receive text messages, photos and videos during emergency situations.

Monmouth County residents having been paying into the trust fund since its inception in 2005 through a 90 cent 9-1-1 system and emergency response fee imposed on monthly landline and cell phone bills. However, Monmouth County has not received any funding back from the State since 2010 and has only received $1.14 million for 9-1-1 services since the trust fund was established.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden holds a cell phone bill at the press conference.“The Monmouth County Sheriff's Office Communications Division has done a remarkable job keeping current with the latest technology in order to keep our residents and visitors safe. However, there is always room for improvement and upgrades to their infrastructure should be funded by the fees collected through the trust fund,” Director Arnone said. “We estimate our residents contribute more than $5 million annually to the trust fund, yet we have not received any payments since 2010.”

New Jersey lawmakers are currently considering legislation (A-3742) that proposes increasing the monthly surcharge by 10 percent, to 99 cents, for each line. The bill states the increase in funds is to be used to equip PSAPs with Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911) systems, which would allow public safety telecommunicators to receive digital information in the form of emergency text messages, photos and videos. While the technology is available in Monmouth County, monies from the fund would assist with needed upgrades, plans, coordination and training.

The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Monmouth County Sheriff and local officials at the press conference.“We oppose any legislation that would call for the increase of 9-1-1 fees as the County has yet to rightfully receive any funding collected through the trust fund since 2010. Our residents have paid their fair share into the fund and should not be asked to contribute even more without seeing those monies come back to the County,” Deputy Director Burry said.

According to a report issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), New Jersey is one of two states to have used a portion of their funds to support non 9-1-1 related public safety programs. In 2016, $122 million was generated for the trust fund, in which an estimated $108 million was used for other purposes.

“This additional tax will not result in a solution to fixing the problem and it’s unfair for taxpayers to bear the burden of paying it when that money will be used for other purposes,” Sheriff Golden said. “Such an increase is unjust, especially with no explanation from the state as to where the funding went or if it will be replenished.”

The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center is staffed with 114 public safety telecommunicators who answer 9-1-1 calls for 50 agencies, which includes 47 municipalities, Brookdale Community College, Monmouth University and Naval Weapons Station Earle.  It also provides dispatch services for 22 police departments, 69 fire companies and 37 first aid squads. The Communications Division processes more than 750,000 calls annually.

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