Residents of Clay County are preparing to vote this November on Proposition A, a measure aiming to introduce a $1 monthly fee on cellular devices to fund the County’s share of the regional 911 system. This proposition comes in the wake of decreasing revenues from landline phone taxes, which have been the traditional source of funding since 1993.
The proposed ballot question is as follows:
“Shall Clay County impose a monthly fee of one dollar ($1.00) on a subscriber of any communications service that has been enabled to contact 911 for the purpose of funding 911 service in Clay County? If passed, the current 911 fee assessed on landline telephones will be removed. These funds shall be used solely for the use of the County’s emergency 911 system and shall be audited annually.”
You’ve Got Questions
Sheriff Will Akin is set to host two town hall meetings to discuss this ballot measure and other concerns related to the Sheriff’s Office. These meetings will take place:
- Wed., Oct. 25, 6 to 7 p.m. at the North Oak Branch of Mid-Continent Public Library, 8700 N. Oak Trafficway, KCMO.
- Thurs., Nov. 2, 6 to 7 p.m. at the Woodneath Branch of Mid-Continent Public Library, 8900 N.E. Flintlock Rd., KCMO.
Sarah Boyd, Clay County Sheriff’s Department Communications Officer, explained the need for this measure. As the number of landlines in Clay County decreases, there’s a growing financial gap in the regional 911 system’s funding. The County is projected to pay over $1.1 million this year for its share of the regional emergency communications system, overseen by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). Only about $218,000 from landlines will be sourced, leading to a concerning deficit.
Proposition A intends to cover these costs and pave the way for innovative features in the 911 system, such as enhanced software to pinpoint 911 callers, the capacity for dispatch centers to receive videos and photos, bolstered cybersecurity, and more.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department shared some statistics about 911 use within the county.
- 80% of all 911 calls in Clay County in 2022 came from mobile devices.
- 9% of calls were through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
- Currently, neither mobile devices nor VoIP are charged a fee or tax for 911 services. The approval of Proposition A will remove the surcharge currently placed on landlines.
A list of frequently asked questions related to the proposed fee was shared by the Sheriff’s Department on their website. To help assuage some of the concerns expressed, Boyd ensured residents that the money would be used exclusively for the County’s emergency 911 system and would be audited each year. Links to previous audits were also made available by the sheriff’s department.
As reported earlier, In light of this impending vote, the Excelsior Springs City Council has opted to eliminate the local 911 fee should this ballot measure receive approval from voters.
Citizens are encouraged to attend the town hall meetings to get more information and have Sheriff Akin and other officials answer their questions directly on this important issue. Voting on Proposition A will take place on Nov. 7.