State Sen. Mark Grisanti has announced that bill S.5509B, which he sponsored, would amend the tax law to specify what percentage of the public safety communications surcharge funds shall go to counties and local governments. The companion bill, A.8489A in the Assembly, is co-sponsored by Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak. This legislation ensures the state properly transfer money raised with the $1.20 tax on every cell phone to county governments to pay for the upgrade of 911 call centers.
The bills state that 58.3 percent of surcharge funds shall be used for the reimbursement to counties for next generation 911 consolidation or operation of public safety communications systems or networks designed for interoperable communications for first responders. The remaining 41.7 percent shall be used for the state police, the New York state emergency services revolving loan fund, and other uses by the state.
The New York State 911 Coordinators Association estimates that New York has collected more than $1.2 billion in surcharge fees since 1994 and, of the $190 million collected last year, the state transferred only $9.3 million to county governments.