MARION – A quarter is usually all you need to call from a payphone, but as cell phones replace landlines and technology upgrades loom, Linn County emergency responders are asking landline holders to pay an extra quarter every month.
In the right column of the back page of the November 6 ballot in Linn County, voters are asked to approve an E911 measure to “increase the monthly surcharge from the current rate of $.25 to $.50 on each telephone access landline”.
The increase would lead to an annual charge of $6 (up from the current rate of $3) for each landline in a home or business within the county.
Marion Police Chief and E911 Linn County Chairperson Harry Daugherty said, if the measure passes, the increased revenue would lead to updated equipment and techonology for response teams.
The 2012 request is not as steep as the $1 rate 58% of Linn County voters rejected in 2010.
Now Daugherty and the E911 board are pushing for the lower increase. Daugherty wants county residents to think about a $.50 monthly fee for a landline and compare it with other counties.
“We’re the second lowest in the state,” said Daugherty. “In Iowa’s 99 counties, 80% of them get $1 a month and we’re asking for 50 cents.” Daughtery noted that Scott County does not have a landline tax but said that revenue is made up by having an operating casino in Davenport.
If voters reject the increase this time around, Daughtery said needed technology upgrades would not happen.
In 2010, Hiawatha Fire Chief Michael Nessage was very vocal in calling for support for that year’s landline rate increase. Nesslage brought up a prime example of how new technology can assist emergency responders. He said updated technology would allow Hiawatha and Cedar Rapids response teams to work off the same communication system when they are called out along the city boundaries at Blairs Ferry Road.
“There are a lot of other issues with this election that are overshadowing it,” Nesslage said with a chuckle. “But it is important for people to understand it is just $3 and goes directly to support first responders and dispatching. It doesn’t pay for salaries. It does pay for equipment.”
View a Linn County Sample Ballot Here: