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E-911 surcharge set to increase

For Pike County residents, calling 911 is about to get a little more expensive.

Beginning Feb. 1, 2009, the 911 surcharge for residential landlines phones will increase 69 cents from 81 cents a month to $1.50. The surcharge for businesses will increase from $1.89 to $2.

The 911 surcharge is not a new thing.

In 1998, Pike County residents voted to implement a surcharge for 911 on both landline and wireless phones, said E911 Director Tina Jones.

Jones said the surcharge is on phone bills regardless of whether 911 is called.

“That’s totally what we’re funded by,” Jones said. “We don’t have revenue from anything else.”

By law, the most the E911 board can charge for the service is 5 percent, and the new rate increase will bring it up to 4.4 percent.

Though the service is charged on cell phones and landlines, it will only affect landline phone bills right now.

Jones said these funds enable the board to hire dispatchers and obtain equipment costs, such as computers and phone lines.

“Our board members are not paid,” Jones said. “It’s just a voluntary basis.”

The rate increase will help the board upgrade computer hardware expected to be outdated soon, Jones said.

In a news release from the E911 board, which oversees management of 911 in the county, they said Pike County’s rates remain the lowest in the state even after the increase.