GREENVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Butler County spent more than $50,000 in upgrades to help locate people who use their cell phones to call 911. But now people who use land lines will have to help offset that cost. The county's E-911 board voted to increase the surcharge on land lines from $2 a month to $2.90 a month.
"I don't think it's fair, but what are you going to do," said Kathy Mills, a Greenville resident. "If you need their services, you're going to be glad you paid for it."
Greenville Mayor Dexter McClendon, who chairs the E-911 Board, said the main reason for the increase is the growing number of people getting rid of lines in their homes, and switching to cell phones.
The state allows the county to charge up to $2.90 for each residential phone line, but only 70 cents for each cell phone line. McClendon said the discrepancy is causing issues for 911 Boards in smaller counties throughout the state.
"They're having financial difficulties," McClendon said. "The seventy cents per cell phone, the state's going to have to take a look at that."
McClendon said the increased rates will keep the system from running out of money. People in the county say they don't like the higher fees, but understand it's necessary.
"You got to look at the alternative to not having it, I guess," said Levon Clark, a Greenville resident. "It would be hard to imagine not having E911 now."
McClendon says he's lobbying state lawmakers to allow counties to increase fees for 911 cell phone service to make the system fairer for everyone. The surcharge varies from county to county. For example, there are no surcharges assessed by the City of Montgomery or Montgomery County for E-911 service. To find out what your community charges, you can visit the Alabama 911 Database's website: http://www.al911db.org/Public911RatesSearch.asp.