East Texas counties concerned about losing 911 emergency service - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

East Texas counties concerned about losing 911 emergency services funding

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) -

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - "Nacogdoches County 911," answers a dispatcher following a ring from the special phone line.

A 911 call to a dispatcher and their ability to know where the caller is relies on specialized equipment to send help fast.

What isn't alright, according to county officials, is what's happening to the fifty cent surcharge you pay on every monthly phone bill to support 911 emergency services.

"It's supposed to go to the state, be collected and reimbursed back to the county," explained Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English. Instead, the State of Texas is, "keeping the whole 911 money and spending it on something else instead of giving the county's back the money it was originally set for," said English.

According to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG), the fund currently is running $117 million. The current budget bill decreases distribution to east Texas counties for the next two years. This is money 911 emergency systems need for updating old equipment and buying new.

"The county's will either have to put in the money that did not get reimbursed for which could be $30,000 a year or so," said Van Bush, DETCOG regional 911 director. "And in terms of equipment maintenance, we won't have anywhere to turn to except for the local jurisdictions."

Lufkin is an entity with 'Public Safety Answering Points', the newest 911 system available. It would be required to pay an additional $4,000 a year for equipment, dispatcher training and software maintenance. This is tough on counties facing the biggest budget restraints seen in years. For that, there's no 911 to call.

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