Clay County 911 funding on November ballot

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 2:36 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 8, 2023 at 1:10 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Clay County voters will head to the polls this fall to decide if a monthly fee to fund the regional 911 system is needed.

If the ballot question is approved on Nov. 7, a $1 monthly fee will be added to any wireless device capable of calling 911. The money raised through the fee would then be used to cover Clay County’s portion of the regional emergency communications system. The Mid-America Regional Council manages the 911 system.

The fee would appear on your monthly phone bill.

If the proposed wireless fee passes, the surcharge on landlines will be eliminated.

Clay County says its portion of the regional 911 bill is more than $1.1 million in 2023.

Funding for that bill comes from a tax on landline phones. Clay County leaders say the problem with that formula is that the number of landlines in the county is dwindling. Leaders said the shortfall in the tax means the county has to pull money from other places to cover the costs.

Clay County leaders say fees from landlines will cover about $218,000 of the bill this year. The County receives an additional $40,000 from the state. That leaves a deficit of $850,000. County leaders say they expect that deficit to grow every year.

The county says the fee, if approved, would cover the existing costs of the 911 system. It would also help the regional 911 system implement new features. Those features may include software to help emergency responders find callers easier, the ability for dispatch centers to accept videos and photos, and enhance security.

The question will appear on the ballot as follows: