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NYS Exposed: New Yorkers pay highest 911 surcharge in the country

July 27, 2018 07:35 AM

According to the state budget, New York collected $185 million from the 911 surcharge in 2016.

The state keeps $77 million of it to balance their own budget which is something the FCC says has to stop.

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"The ongoing fee diversion by certain states must end once and for all," said Michael O'Rielly, FCC commissioner. 

At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Commissioner O'Rielly testified that only three states have failed to address it. New York was one of them.

"Identifying and shaming these states has not adequately worked." 

New Yorkers pay the highest 911 surcharge in the country and the FCC says all that money needs to go to upgrading local 911 centers.

It's supposed to pay for new technology to ensure you're being protected by the best 911 service available.

"We've seen New York be quite problematic. They have been a constant diverter for a couple years and this year, in our last report they decided they're not even going to file the paperwork."

The FCC is now enlisting the help of Congress to force New York's hand.

"My bill would prevent state's like New York from continuing this egregious practice," stated U.S. Congressman Chris Collins. 

Last week, Congressman Chris Collins introduced new legislation that would require 100% of the surcharge money go to 911 centers.

It has bi-partisan sponsors from each of the three states currently diverting money.

"Forty-percent of that money that is supposed to go to upgrade our 911 call centers is just going into the general fund in Albany, to frankly be wasted," added Congressman Collins. 

In 2017, people in Monroe County paid just over $2.7 million toward the 911 surcharge.

Monroe County received about $200,000 back in state grants. That's eight percent.  

"It's not coming back to upstate New York, none of us should be surprised," stated Congressman Collins. 

News10NBC reached out to the state's budget office, who didn't want to comment on the pending legislation.

However, they did say that spending is done according to a law passed by the New York State Legislature and they're bound by that. And that millions are spent each year on 911 centers through various grant programs, including $9 million to Monroe County since 2011.

"That's just their only defense they have that, 'oh we spend a lot of money on public safety,' well fine, lets keep the 911 fees going back exactly where they're supposed to go to fund the upgrades to the 911 call centers. No ifs, ands or buts," stated Congressman Collins. 

The legislation now heads to the House Telecommunication's Subcommittee. Congressman Collins is a member and says it will be a top priority to get done before the end of the year.

Credits

Berkeley Brean

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