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State of New Jersey Diverts Tax Dollars Allocated to 911 System Improvements

 

A decade ago, a fee was placed on every New Jersey resident’s phone bill to be allocated to improving the state’s out-of-date 911 system. 6a00d8341bf7d953ef01a511f0d7fc970c-320wi

However, only 10 to 15 percent of those funds is used to upgrade the three state-operated 911 centers, John G. Donnadio, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, said in an interview with The Center Square.

“The 197 or so the county and municipal 911 centers have not received any funding from the state during this time and have been forced to rely on the use of local property taxpayer dollars to fund 911 system upgrades,” he said.

The funds, instead, have been diverted for general operating expenses at the Department of Law and Public Safety. The diversions prohibit New Jersey from applying for millions of dollars in grants from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to upgrade 911 systems.

Donnadio said the solution to improving New Jersey’s 911 system is a technology called Next Generation 911 (NexGen 911).

“All 911 centers (public safety answering points) across the country must enhance their systems with NextGen 911 technology, which is an upgrade from analog to digital or Internet Protocol (IP) technologies,” he said.

The current system dates to the 1980s and can give incorrect location data and have trouble locating cell phone callers.

The Federal Trade Commission reported that NextGen 911 could save more than 10,000 lives annually if implemented nationwide.

In New Jersey, the 90-cent tax on phone bills was implemented in 2004 by the state Legislature to upgrade the 911 system, bringing in an average of $124 million a year.

In January, state officials held a news conference in Trenton to ask for diversions of funds that should be used for 911 system improvements to stop.

“That money has ended up in the black hole of the state budget,” Sen. Michael Testa, R-Vineland, said in an interview with NJ.com. “It’s long past time for the state to do the right thing.”

published by Gloucestercitynews.net with permission of The Center Square

 

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