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Fargo voters to be asked to approve 50-cent increase in emergency 911 fee

Voters will be asked to approve an increase the monthly fee to $1.50 per phone user on Nov. 4. If passed, the increase would take effect Jan. 1.

Since 2009, the fee’s income has fallen short of expenditures, according to figures provided by the city. In 2013, the fee generated $1,375,535 and expenditures were $1,883,152.

Emergency costs are rising while fee revenue from landlines has decreased and revenue from cellphones is staying flat, according to city leaders.

Director of Finance Kent Costin told the commission that fee revenue came entirely from landlines in 2000. Now only about 27 percent of revenue comes from landlines.

“We’ve seen a real shift,” Costin said.

The entire fee doesn’t go to local emergency services.

Five cents is paid to the phone companies for billing the fee to customers and transferring that revenue to the city. Fifteen cents of fee revenue collected from cellphone users goes to the North Dakota Association of Counties to fund development of “enhanced” 911 services such as geolocation, Costin said.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the commission, with Commissioner Tim Mahoney presiding because Mayor Dennis Walaker was absent.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599