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February 27, 2024

Chicago bail-out masked as public safety fees on your phone –

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On June 1, 2017

Illinois (ECWd) –

According to legislators in the General Assembly, telecommunication providers have managed to lobby their agenda and wrapped it up in a 911 bill with the added benefit of sticking it to every phone user in the state, but especially to those in Chicago and did so under the scare tactic of losing 911 service.

In 2015, our political brain trust in Springfield voted to turn over all 911 Administration to the Illinois State Police.  In that process, they established a repeal date of June 30, 2017, for the current Emergency Telephone System Board, which are the controlling entities of our 911 systems statewide.

It is now being claimed that when the current law expires, there will be no funding for 911 so they need to extend the sunset date because, without the cash, emergency 911 centers will start shutting down after June 30th.

If there was any truth to that, then simply extend the expiration or sunset date a couple years so the ISP can get their act together but that would be too simple, as there is always more to the story.  Not only did they scare everyone into believing that 911 systems would shut down statewide as a means of justifying this extension, they placed a new fee rate on all our phone lines.

The legislation, which passed out of the House raises your phone line 911 fee by 72%, from $.87 cents per line to $1.50 per line, effective January 1, 2018.  And for that great city in the sky, Chicago, the language in the bill would allow any municipality over 500,000 (Chicago) to raise that 911 fee to as high as $5.00 per phone line.

“Beginning January 1, 2018, and until December 31, 2020, a municipality with a population over 500,000 may not impose a monthly surcharge in excess of $5.00 per network connection.” (Ammendment 5, page 37.)

The game being played is a scare tactic that we can only pray the Governor will Veto.  This move to raise our phone rates is yet another bailout for Chicago and another way to generate more revenue for this new state agency run by the Illinois State Police who call themselves The Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator.

We agree there is a need for technological improvement in Emergency Dispatching across the state as some 911 centers are years behind the tech curve.  However, creating a new state agency with more state employees and pensions to manage what is being handled at the local level is pointing to yet another government expansion and adding more financial heartache on the citizens of Illinois.

I suspect if this bill is not vetoed, these same people will be back at the table a few years from now wanting more money and will tack that fee onto our phone lines once again, all while crying we have to do it if you want 911 service.

This takeover was hogwash in 2015 and now the slop can be smelled statewide.  Time for the Governor to veto this bill and force these legislature to fix problems, not create more of them.


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