New Law Could Bring Much Needed Boost To Tulsa 911 Center

Tuesday, June 7th 2016, 10:05 pm
By: News On 6

A new law is increasing Tulsa's 911 Center's budget by nearly half a million dollars. The money is coming from something most of us use every day.

No matter what the emergency, 911 is the number you call, but continuous budget cuts have made it more difficult to get a dispatcher on the line.

"Our call volume has doubled and our revenue has halved, and you can see the dilemma right there," said Tulsa 911 Center director, Terry O’Malley.

Home phones used to pay a large portion of 911 fees in Oklahoma, but since so many people have cut their land lines off and only have a cell phone, the funding has dramatically decreased.

The average Tulsa household used to pay a 911 service fee of about $2.50 a month through their landline bill - in 2001, it generated almost $3.2 million.

Fast-forward 15 years, and it's been cut in half.

Cell phones do have a 911 service fee of 50 cents, but even multiple cell phones per household haven’t closed the gap.

However, starting in November, the fee will increase 25 cents, generating almost a half a million.

O’Malley said, "It will pay for some people out on the floor and the technology they use to help those calling in in need."

The additional revenue, paired with public safety Vision tax money starting in January, will provide the much-needed boost, eventually creating new positions.

But, it will take about a year to get the ball rolling in that direction.