Montmorency County to vote on 911 surcharge increase

ATLANTA — On Election Day, voters in Montmorency County will be asked to vote for a proposed 911 surcharge that will apply to cell phones.

The current surcharge to cell phones is $1.47 per phone line per month. The millage is asking to increase the surcharge to up to $3 per line per month. That would be an approximate increase of $1.53 per phone line per month.

“This is a millage and will not increase taxes,” Donna Baranyi, 911 director and administrative assistant Donna Baranyai, said.

Cell phone surcharge money comes into the county from cell phones lines if the bill is addressed within Montmorency County. Straight Talk phones are charged a surcharge that goes into a separate pool. That charge does not go to the county directly.

The increase is needed to purchase and update the current phone system and radios because both run on Windows XP. With the phone system and radios being older, limited parts are available in case something happens.

The current 911 equipment is the original phone equipment from 1993.

“The phone system will be replaced first because that is our weakest link right now,” Baranyai said. “The current system works, but there are limited parts available for it.”

In addition to a new updated phone system, text to 911 will bring the county up-to-date and assist with hearing impaired or non-verbal individuals or in crisis situation where an individual may not have the option to speak.

The increase will generate approximately $116,000 a year.

The board of commissioners will set the rate and the language will say up to $3. The board will have until May if the surcharge passes to set the rate and the rate would not go higher than $3.

The surcharge is the only item on the ballot.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688.