E-911 Fees Being Collected From Water Bills

Previously, there was a $2 fee on each landline in the county for E-911 operations. The ordinance passed last year increased the amount to a $3 fee for each water meter in the county.

by Angela Turner, The Times-Tribune, Corbin, Ky. / February 13, 2017

(TNS) - The Whitley County Fiscal Court has been collecting E-911 fees from each water district for months now, with the exception of the city of Williamsburg.

An ordinance passed by the Whitley County Fiscal Court at their April 20, 2016, meeting moved the county’s E-911 fees from landline phone bills to water bills of everyone within the county as a means to help dwindling funds. The ordinance went into effect in July 2016.

Previously, there was a $2 fee on each landline in the county for E-911 operations. The ordinance passed last year increased the amount to a $3 fee for each water meter in the county.

The ordinance, found online at The Whitley County Fiscal Court’s website, states that every water company, water association or other entity operating as a water distribution system in Whitley County shall collect the herein established service fee and remit amounts so collected each month to the Whitley County E-911.

Whitley County has six water districts ranging from even a small area in Pineville (Pineville Utility Commission) to as large of an area as Corbin (City Utilities Commission.) All six water districts have implemented the ordinance and have been collecting the fees since July of 2016 with the exception of the city of Williamsburg.

“Williamsburg was first trying to find some other ways to fund it,” Judge Executive Pat White Jr. said. “They were looking at trying to pay us some other way that would be the same amount of money.”

According to White and County Projects Director Amber Owens, even if someone was in the city of Williamsburg and dialed 911, the call would still go to Whitley Dispatch. Most cell phone calls in the city of Corbin also go straight to Whitley Dispatch and then get routed back.

“We’ve been trying to allow them the opportunity to work through that,” White said in regards to the fee collection “Two of our magistrates have met with the mayor and I’ve met with every member of the city council. In talking with them the last few days we’re expecting a resolution very quickly.”

White also added that from his perspective it doesn’t matter (how they collect the fee) as long as they contribute their portion and it’s fair to the county citizens.

Whitley Dispatch is a certified PSAP (public safety answering point) 911 center which employs nine full-time and 2-3 part time individuals.

White said that in the county’s recent mock disaster the 911-evaluator described the dispatchers as “unsung heroes.”

“In many parts of the county they are the only backup a police officer is going to have,” Owens added.

In the month of December 2016, the 911 fees brought in $40,103.51 according to a report from the county treasurer.

Item four on today’s agenda of the Williamsburg City Council is the 911 fee. Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison is expecting a resolution on the matter.

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©2017 The Times-Tribune (Corbin, Ky.)

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