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Legislature Adopts New Wireless Surcharge Law

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Legislature Adopts New Wireless Surcharge Law

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Following a public hearing, the Legislature, by unanimous vote, adopted a new County Wireless Surcharge Law. The new Local Law repeals the County’s former Local Law, passed in 2002, that established a 30-cent public safety surcharge on postpaid wireless communications devices. It authorizes continuation of that surcharge and its extension to pre-paid devices, which had not previously been subject to the surcharge, as authorized as part of the 2017-18 State Budget. The State legislation required the County to repeal the previous law and adopt a new law, collecting both pre-paid and post-paid wireless surcharges. Continuing the former law and continuing to charge post-paid service only was not an option.

With current annual Tompkins wireless revenues of approximately $240,000, and pre-paid devices estimated at 20-30% of the wireless market, County Director of Emergency Response Lee Shurtleff has noted that the additional estimated pre-paid revenue of $40-60,000 will offset some losses from the rapidly diminishing landline public safety surcharge.