911 surcharge to help upgrade dispatch centers - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

911 surcharge to help upgrade dispatch centers

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Beginning July 1, a new 911 surcharge increase will be built into your monthly phone bills.

If you're a pre-paid wireless customer, a 2% increase will be applied at the time of service sale.

While it doesn't seem like much, 911 Coordination Board Chair Ted Rufledt Jr. says it will make a big difference. 

"I think most folks understand the importance of 911 and appreciate that it's never been increased. That fee has only been paying half the cost of operating until now," Ted Rufledt Jr. said.

HEre's how it breaks down, the new fee increases from 70-cents to $1.25

$0.875 will go to county/city operating 911 centers. South Dakota currently has a total of 34.  

$0.375 will fund the Next Generation of 911 centers.  

"This certainly won't fund them 100% but it does give them a small increase to offset the rising costs that has taken place over the last 20 years," Rufledt said.

That's why this increase is a big deal. Rufledt says dispatch centers have been using technology that dates back to the 70s and 80s. As technology advances with smart phones, pictures and video, he says the time to upgrade 911 is now.

"There's been many situations in the past in the past, if people who have had the ability to text with 911 rather than talk,, there could have been a different outcome... Hostage situations, violent home invasions," Rufledt said.

Overall, he says, it's a good move for 911 and for public safety in South Dakota.

"Nobody likes paying taxes but this is one of those fees that I think people understand the importance of and support. We're excited to move forward and we appreciate the support of the legislature and we have a lot of work to do," Ted Rufledt said.

You'll only be paying the $1.25 fee for about six years. By 2018, the 911 Coordination Board plans to have upgrades made and the surcharge fee will go down to $1.

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