911 Dwelling Unit Fee Ordinance Given First Reading
At the March 21, 2017 meeting of the Boone County Fiscal Court, the County’s elected body heard first reading of the proposed 911 dwelling unit fee ordinance. The 911 service fee as proposed will by $75.00 (Seventy-five dollars and zero cents) annually imposed upon each occupied individual residential unit and each occupied individual commercial unit located within the County of Boone. If adopted, the fee will take effect on July 1, 2018 and will be accompanied by an elimination of the current 911 landline fee, replacing a fee with a fee. The 911 dwelling unit fee will be dedicated to the 911 fund to be used only for the operation of the emergency dispatch and 911 services. Staff presented a plan to reallocate capital funding from reserves to allow for the purchase of the infrastructure for an upgrade of the emergency communications radio system for first responders. The Fiscal Court approved this plan and eliminated the funding for the radio system from the 911 dwelling unit fee. Second reading for the 911 dwelling unit fee ordinance is scheduled for April 18, 2017 at the regular meeting of the Boone County Fiscal Court.
Preliminary Financing Policy Set by Fiscal Court
At the March 7, 2017 meeting of the Boone County Fiscal Court, the county’s elected body affirmed its support for a regional communications system to support the needs of first responders and to correct significant deficiencies in the current antiquated system. Although the county has worked hard to extend the life of the current system, an independent consultant hired at the request of the county’s first responders conducted a comprehensive that clearly demonstrated that the UHF/VHF technology currently being utilized is at end of life, presents significant gaps in coverage and does not allow firefighters and police officers to talk directly to each other. The three Northern Kentucky counties each had similar reports and moved forward to implement a regional solution in order to provide the most cost effective and efficient solution. This is a major initiative which is beyond the ability of the county’s budget to absorb. A range of options were developed by county staff and presented to the Fiscal Court utilizing the very limited options available to local governments including: property taxes, payroll taxes, insurance premium taxes and direct fees for services. Beginning in December of 2016, the county has been publicly discussing these options at open meetings, attending community group meetings and receiving input from the community to refine the options based the comments. On March 7, a majority of the Court approved a motion endorsing a 911 dwelling unit fee to fund the emergency communications system and the operation of the Public Safety Communications Center and to eliminate all other options. The Court directed staff to prepare a draft ordinance consistent with this direction.
Public Safety Communications Upgrade and Operation to be funded by a 911 dwelling unit fee. Current 911 Landline fee to be repealed
The proposed 911 dwelling unit fee will fund the purchase and installation of the backbone of the recommended 800 MHz P 25 communications system and provide funding for the operation of the Public Safety Communications Center which answers 911 calls and provides support for the first responders.
- A dwelling unit fee is a fee for services assessed to a unit with a physical address and includes residential, commercial, multi-family and industrial facilities.
- A $88 dollar 911 dwelling unit fee per year, will fund the purchase of the system and operate the Public Safety Communications Center.
- This amount is derived from a combination of the anticipated annual cost to pay for the system ($800,000) and the annual cost to operate the Public Safety Communications Center ($4.2 million).
- When divided by the number of dwelling units in the county, this equals $13 per dwelling per year for the purchase of the system and $75 for the operation of the Public Safety Communications System.
- The current 911 landline fee (33.12 per line per year) will be repealed. This funding source dedicated to the operation of the Center has deteriorated significantly due to the rapid transition from landlines to mobile phones resulting in the need for a subsidy from the general that is currently 2 million dollars and growing. The 911 dwelling unit fee assures that 911 service has a reliable funding source for the future.
- The $13 portion of the 911 dwelling fee will “sunset” or be removed at the conclusion of the ten year period when the new system is fully paid for leaving a fee of $75 to support the Public Safety Communications Center.
- This fee produces no new revenue above the purchase of the communications system and funding the Public Safety Communications Center.
- The dwelling unit fee is assessed to every physical address in the county.
- The 911 dwelling unit fee will be collected annually in conjunction with the property tax bill.
- For multi-family dwellings, a 911 dwelling unit fee is assessed for each unit (address) to the property owner.
The 911 dwelling unit fee of $88 as proposed fully pays for the implementation of a new system and the operation of the Public Safety Communications Center; HOWEVER, the Court directed staff to conduct a full review of costs and resources prior to the final proposal.