OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – A state lawmaker Tuesday announced plans to file a 9-1-1 reform bill aimed at centralizing 9-1-1 oversight in the state emergency management agency.
State Rep. Josh Cockroft said that while there is a state 9-1-1 board, each dispatch center is run autonomously without state supervision. This includes their requirement to report and undergo audits, he said.
“The intent is to create cost savings and consolidation opportunities through statewide oversight,” said Cockroft, Wanette-27 (R). “I have been working with the advisory board and other entities to come up with a plan to improve the 9-1-1 system in the state. My proposal will create statewide oversight and improve the way in which fees are distributed within the system.”
Cockroft’s proposal would place all 9-1-1 operations under the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and require annual audits and reports from each dispatch center go to the Statewide 9-1-1 State Advisory Board.
The legislation he plans to file tomorrow would also:
- Provide guidelines for hiring a statewide 9-1-1 director;
- Redirect the funding from fees to the dispatch center where the individual using 9-1-1 resides rather than where the contract was purchased;
- Require the fees to be paid to the Oklahoma Tax Commission and be distributed by the state advisory board;
- Requires the state advisory board to seek out efficiencies and cost savings; and
- Increases the individual 9-11 fee on each cellular contract from 50 cents to 75 cents.
“Our local 9-1-1 emergency service centers must have the proper resources and leadership,” Cockroft said. “This provides the proper resources our law enforcement officers and first responders desperately deserve and ensures the safety and well-being of every Oklahoman; no matter where they are. This is not a partisan issue, this is a public safety issue.”
Currently, fees tend to disproportionately go to urban rather than rural municipalities, because they are tied to where calls are made, rather than where the individual calling resides, Cockroft said. He said the fee increase is estimated to result in approximately $28 million, which will be used to update 9-1-1 infrastructure and fund the state director’s office.
Additional information on the 9-1-1 system:
- The 9-1-1 Statewide Advisory Board’s members represent municipalities, counties, the telecommunications industry, and 9-1-1 center operations personnel.
- There are 144 local dispatch centers, which are also known as PSAPS or Public Safety Answering Points. They are funded through fees placed on traditional landline and cellular phones and other services.
- Over the last decade, traditional landline fees have dipped an average of 45 percent due to users dropping their landline contracts.
- Over the same period of time, cellular fees have held steady resulting in a net loss for all systems.
- Many PSAPs are in critical need of funding, or they face shutdown in the next two to three years. This would place tremendous strain on the entire system.
- To cover the costs of declining revenues, most PSAPs have been subsidized 40-60 percent by municipal or county governments.
- That 50-cent fee goes to the municipality where the cell phone contract was purchased, not where the owner of that contract resides. This results in a disparity between fees going to urban areas and fees going to rural areas of the state.
- Fees remitted by the cellular companies are given to each PSAP, not a central agency.
- Currently there is no consistency in reporting by each of the PSAPs. This results in conflicting data across the state.