Included on the ballot for the Tuesday, April 7, 2015 will be a referendum question regarding the E-911 Monthly Surcharge. The City of Highwood is seeking direction from Highwood citizens, based on the results of the referendum.
Residents will be asked if the City should increase the emergency telephone system surcharge from $1.00 to $2.00 per month, per phone line in each home or business in the community. The additional revenue will be used to continue to provide residents with the highest level of dispatching service and alleviate the financial strain on City’s General Fund.
The City recently proposed this referendum question on the November 4, 2014 ballot which resulted in 452 voters in favor of the referendum and 458 not in favor. The City is once again requesting voter consideration of this referendum question for the Tuesday, April 7th election. The referendum question will read as follows:
“Shall the City of Highwood impose an increase of one dollar ($1.00) per month to raise the current monthly surcharge from one dollar ($1.00) per month to two dollars ($2.00) per month per network connection, which surcharge will be added to the monthly bill you receive for telephone or telecommunications charges, for the purpose of improving and maintaining the 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System?”
The City of Highwood currently has an E-911 (Emergency Telephone System) Monthly Surcharge of $1.00 per month. This amount is assessed on residential and commercial land lines. The $1.00 surcharge was established in 1991 when Highwood residents approved the rate via referendum. The revenue collected through this surcharge is used to maintain the Emergency Telephone System that provides dispatching services.
Dispatchers serve a critical role in directing emergency response personnel 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Around the clock, these highly trained dispatchers answer 9-1-1 calls and send fire and police units on their way to a life safety call or the alarm of criminal activity. All dispatchers are certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch. This allows them to provide pre-arrival, “self help”, instructions to citizens during medical emergencies in the critical few moments while fire fighters, paramedics, ambulance or police are on their way to the emergency.
In the twenty three years since the initial surcharge was passed, costs have continued to escalate while improvements have been made to staffing and technology. Meanwhile, the E-911 Surcharge revenue has declined, especially over the past several years.
The City’s estimated cost of dispatching is $215,000 for the current year. With only about $52,000 in surcharge revenues, the City’s support of this dispatching service is more than $163,000. These dollars come from the City’s General Fund, or property taxes collected from residents. The additional revenue will be used to continue to provide residents with the highest level of dispatching service and alleviate the financial strain on City’s General Fund.
For more information regarding the proposed referendum please call 847-432-1924.