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Some question where 9-1-1 cell phone surcharge money is going
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Emergency services officials around the state say that the $1.20 surcharge on your cell phone bill that should be coming back to your home county is not.
"The state collects this surcharge and they're not funneling it back to the counties," says Chief Steve Dziura of Central Oneida County Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
The State 9-1-1 Coordinators Association has filed a strongly-worded complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, accusing the state of 'raiding' that pool of taxpayer money, insead of returning it to the counties from where it was collected. The association has also asked State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli for an audit to determine if what the state is doing is legal.
Some state lawmakers agree with the 9-1-1 officials.
"What we've been seeing is the state has been using that money for it's own general fund which is wrong," says Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, (D) 119. Brindisi and Senator Joseph Griffo have a bill which would compel the state to hand over 100% of the surcharge to counties.
"As time has gone on, much more has stayed with the state and has not gone to the local partners. This bill will change that," says Griffo, who hopes the bill will be voted on this legislative session, before June.
The 9-1-1 officials say the state has collected $1 billion in that public safety communications surcharge over the past 10 years, but only shared about $10 million annually with the counties who collected it and whom state and 9-1-1 leaders say should have received 100% of the surcharge.
Governor Cuomo had no comment.