That small surcharge on your monthly phone bill imposed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough for operating its enhanced E911 emergency system is generating more revenue than expected, and borough Mayor John Williams has proposed cutting the rate by about 15 percent.
Under state law, the municipalities may recover E911 operational costs through a surcharge, but must review that fee annually to ensure it is adequate but not excessive.
The current surcharge is $1.35 per month. In early 2006, the charge was raised to $1.15 from 75 cents, and went to $1.35 in June of last year.
However, in a memo to the assembly, Finance Director Craig Chapman and Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Scott Walden said the number of land and wireless access lines subject to the surcharge is larger than expected. The borough recovered more than $84,600 above its costs in fiscal year 2007 and is projected to recover better than $41,500 over costs in the current fiscal year.
"This total amount of over-recovery should be applied against the E911, resulting in a suggested reduced E911 rate for FY 2009 of $1.15," officials said.
On Tuesday, the borough assembly will consider Ordinance 2008-08, which would lower the rate to the suggested level.
If left as is for FY 2009, the current fee would generate approximately $972,000 from telephone use by the general public, Chapman said Friday. Another $210,000 would be garnered from fees charged CES, Nikiski Fire Service Area and the city of Soldotna for a total of E911 revenues of $1,182,000. Meanwhile, costs are expected to be around $1.175 million.
Chapman said the overcharge needs to be adjusted and that the administration hopes to leave the surcharge at $1.15 for a couple of years or more to let the fees balance out.
Hal Spence can be reached at email@example.com.
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