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Legislature Passes Local Law to Strengthen Suffolk’s E-911 Service

LongIsland.com

Schneiderman Guarantees Funding for Emergency Dispatchers.

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Suffolk County, NY - December 10, 2013 - On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, the Suffolk County Legislature passed Introductory Resolution No. 1698-13, a local law which strengthens Suffolk County’s Enhanced 911 services. This resolution, which will ensure funding for E-911 services and Public Safety Access Points (PSAP), was sponsored by Legislator Jay Schneiderman and co-sponsored by Legislators John M. Kennedy, Wayne Horsley, Al Krupski and DuWayne Gregory.  
 
This legislation safeguards public safety and will guarantee funding for the call centers which answer emergency calls for police, fire departments and ambulance services. These call centers are staffed by trained telephone operators who are responsible for dispatching these emergency services to protect the safety of residents of Suffolk County.  
 
Enhanced 911 services are provided through PSAPs including the Suffolk County Police Department, the Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services and ten non-County PSAPs. There are four non-County PSAP’s in Legislator Schneiderman’s district which includes Southampton Town, Southampton Village, East Hampton Town and East Hampton Village. The other non-County PSAPs are located in Southold, Riverhead, Amityville, Smithtown, Babylon and Northport Village.   
 
“I would like to thank the PSAPs for working with me on developing a permanent system of funding for operational costs. The PSAPS provide a critical role providing public safety throughout Suffolk County,” said Legislator Schneiderman. The Suffolk County Department of Audit and Control recently conducted an audit of E-911 surcharge revenue and issued findings and recommendations regarding this program. These findings and recommendations were incorporated in Resolution No. 1131-13 to ensure that the E-911 system continues to operate efficiently for the benefit of all Suffolk County residents. 
 
The service supplier is authorized, empowered and directed, in accordance with state law, to impose a surcharge of $0.35 per access line per month on each service supplier’s subscriber in Suffolk County. This revenue can be used to pay for the costs associated with implementing, installing, operating and maintaining the telecommunication equipment and telephone services needed to provide an enhanced 911 emergency telephone system.  
 
This law empowers the E-911 Commission to select its Chairman, establishes record keeping requirements for non-County PSAP’s and requires service suppliers to maintain adequate records to allow the County to review the surcharge amounts billed and collected.  This law also authorizes the non-County PSAP representatives on the E-911 Commission to determine how funding will be allocated amongst them. The time for quarterly payments to be made to non-County PSAP’s will be extended from 45 to 60 days after the end of each quarter and authorizes civil penalties against service suppliers who fail to comply with the law’s provisions. 
 
No less than 20% of the surcharge monies remitted by the service providers to the County for landline, cell phone and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services in any fiscal year will be allocated to the non-County PSAPs. The surcharge monies remitted by the service providers to the County and allocated to the non-County PSAPs in the annual budget will be distributed to the non-County PSAPs in proportion to the actual cash collections and will be made quarterly, within 60 days of the end of each quarter. Funding can be used towards the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining the telecommunication equipment, all operations and maintenance costs and the telephone services costs necessary to establish and provide the enhanced 911 system.  “As the demands and needs for 911 centers continue to grow, so do the financial needs. This law will assist greatly with training, staffing and ever changing technology. I would like to thank the Suffolk County Legislators and especially Legislator Jay Schneiderman for his tireless work,” states J.P. Foster, head of East Hampton Village Emergency Communications. 
 
 “I was happy to co-sponsor Legislator Schneiderman’ s bill, formalizing many of the recommendations that were generated by Comptroller Sawicki’s audit of the prior PSAP funding mechanisms. These vital local public safety dispatchers need the flexibility and certainty that this measure will implement. Citizens will now be safer in their homes and their communities because of this action by the Legislature,” stated Legislator John M. Kennedy. 
 
Suffolk County Executive Bellone has included funding for the E-911 services in the 2014 adopted budget. It is anticipated the County Executive, who has indicated his support of this resolution, will sign Introductory Resolution 1698-13 into law.