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Uncollected 911 fees: who's to blame?

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HINDS COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A county's E911 funds are a big source of cash for city and county police and fire equipment. Earlier this year, police and fire chiefs stood in front of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, pleading with them to find a way to replenish the dwindling E911 funds.

That situation may never have to occur again, as the County just found out it's not collecting all the cash due for 911 service. The County stands to collect $2.4 million for this year, $4.8 million for next year, and Supervisor Peggy Hobson-Calhoun tells us they will try to recoup two years worth of 911 fees retroactively.

So who dropped the ball?

"There's been turnover in the EOC leadership in the county. I would think that some of the onerous for not being on top of this would rest there," says District 4 Supervisor Tony Greer.

This issue also arose in Huntsville, Alabama last year, and the telephone/cable company is being blamed. There's a class-action lawsuit against the company for billing and collecting less than the required amount of 911 charges.

Hinds County is allowed to collect $2 in 911 fees for commercial land lines, and $1 for residential lines, from AT&T and other phone companies. The county gets a smaller percentage from cell phone lines, and the Commercial Mobile Radio Service Board facilitates that. For the county to collect all that's due, Greer says, all of those bodies will have to work closely together.

"We should take a hard look at the number of lines out there, who's billing, and it may be the Public Service Commission has to get involved as well," he says.

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