Emergency services coordinators worried about state budget, 911 funds

By Gary Scott on September 8, 2015 at 1:03pm

More services that impact everyone in West Central Illinois could be affected by the state budget impasse.

This time, we’re talking about 9-1-1 call centers. In Morgan County, emergency services coordinator Phil McCarty says 70 percent of the revenue for the three dispatch centers that take 9-1-1 calls are funded through a cell phone tax, which the state collects the revenue from and distributes.

Except McCarty says they just got the payment for April last month, and he says officials aren’t expecting any more going forward until a budget is in place. That means money to fund the operational needs of dispatch centers could simply disappear.

“It not only affects us as an office, but it affects everybody across the whole state,” McCarty says. “911 is a very important part of public service in the State of Illinois, and for us to ensure that we can have quality of service, we gotta have income so we can pay for our equipment, pay for our personnel.”

   McCarty says smaller counties in West Central Illinois could be in even worse shape as Morgan County can dip into reserves, but he says that won’t last forever.

It could get worse next year, as he explains starting January, the state will control surcharge revenue for both cell phone and land lines.

“There’s new legislation which will significantly improve how 911 is billed and taxed throughout the state, but unless we have a new budget or legislation that protects that funding that allows it to be passed along, then we will be in worse shape a year from now, if we have a state budget impasse next year,” he says.

   If there’s no funding in place, it could mean the county board would have to make up the difference.

Illinois has been without an operating budget for the new fiscal year since July 1st.