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Legislature Urges New York State to Extend Access Line Surcharge

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Legislature Urges New York State to Extend Access Line Surcharge

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

The Legislature, by unanimous vote (Legislators Rich John and Leslyn McBean-Clairborne were excused), requested that the Governor and State Legislature enact legislation to amend New York State County Law to extend Tompkins County’s authorization to increase the E-911 surcharge on telephone landlines up to an amount not to exceed $1.00 per line per month.  Revenue from the surcharge is directed to pay for costs of maintaining and operating the County’s emergency communications system. 

In 2009, the Governor and State Legislature enacted home rule legislation (with a “sunset” expiration after ten years) which authorized Tompkins County to increase its E-911 surcharge to $1.00 per line (higher than the 35 cent standard amount.)   That authorization will soon expire.  The additional 65 cents per month generates approximately $185,000 annually.  While the supplemental $0.65 surcharge was intended to help pay for bonding Tompkins County’s $21 million interoperable public safety communications system, “the need for a continued funding stream to support the system and related capital and operational costs does not sunset,” noted Emergency Response Director Brian Robison in a briefing memo to County legislators.  He said the loss of $185,000 in landline surcharge revenue would negatively affect the Department of Emergency Response budget, and would require cuts to operating lines and service and/or an increase of property taxes.