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02-03-08, 01:15 AM #1Corporal
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Wanna dial 911... its gonna cost ya!
Ventura to charge fee for 911 service Residents will have to pay
$1.49 a month or, if they opt out of the plan, $50 per call. City says
the money is needed to boost public safety services.
By Gregory W. Griggs, LA Times, 2/2/08
Emergency? Call 911 — for a small fee.
Strapped for money to hire additional police officers and
firefighters, Ventura will soon charge a monthly fee for emergency
calls to help pay for services.
Residents in the seaside community will pay $1.49 a month for
emergency service access beginning May 1. If they choose to opt out of
the plan, they will be charged $50 for each 911 call.
City officials stressed that the action is vital to improving
public safety services.
"Let's be clear, the problem is we just don't have enough police
and firefighters," said City Manager Rick Cole. "Our whole goal is get
to a place where we can respond within five minutes to
life-threatening emergencies at least 90% of the time."
The fee will be levied on about 158,000 residential and business
land lines and cellphones in the city.
With exemptions for certain low-income residents and pay phones,
Ventura hopes to raise at least $2.2 million annually to cover much of
the cost of operating its 911 dispatch center. The money will also be
used to hire six additional police officers and three firefighters.
Currently, Ventura has 134 sworn officers and 75 fire personnel to
serve a population of 107,000. The two public safety agencies handled
nearly 55,000 emergency and 911 calls last year. But response times
have not kept pace with the city's growth. Only 56% of police
responses were within five minutes; 49% for fire personnel.
"It doesn't really matter how well the call center works, we don't
have the people to respond to the calls," said Deputy Mayor Bill
Fulton. "We thought this was the best way to give the 911 system
Councilman Neal Andrews, who cast the lone vote against the fee
this week, said the panel should not have authorized it without a
"The 911 service is a core part of our public safety program; it's
not something people should have to pay for extra. It's not optional,"
"The public has a right to expect access to emergency services on
demand — when they need it, without encumbrances of any kind."
Don Facciano, president of the Ventura County Taxpayers Assn., agreed
"Our main point is that it's a tax," he said. "So just call it a
tax and put it before voters and let it be judged on its own merits."
Ventura is believed to be the only Southern California city to
adopt such a charge. But similar 911 fees are in place in several
Northern California communities, including Santa Cruz, San Jose and
Ventura City Atty. Ariel Pierre Calonne said that allowing
residents to opt out of paying the monthly fee should protect the new
ordinance from lawsuits.
"I think we'll be successful if challenged," Calonne said.
A "good Samaritan" exemption in the ordinance will waive the $50
per call charge if someone who opted out contacts 911 to assist
someone else. Businesses with multiple phone lines will be charged for
three phones per trunk line.
Meanwhile, Fire Chief Mike Lavery said that while he welcomes
three extra personnel, his department is about 25 positions below
where it should be.
"We went too long, almost 20 years, without adding any new
people," Lavery said. "That's too long not to invest in the public
safety arena and to still expect to keep up."
02-03-08, 01:35 AM #2Chief Wheaties PisserVerified LEO
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Wild. Citizens up here already pay a 911 tax.
All that money won't make a dent when there is a NATIONAL CRISIS for qualified recruit officers. Besides, it just looks bad.
02-03-08, 03:15 AM #3
Not sure I agree with a service fee, but I'm all for charging people who call 911 for non-emergency services.Molly Weasley makes Chuck Norris eat his vegetables.
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02-03-08, 01:10 PM #4
I'm not sure they could get away with that.
The citizenry is entitled to access emergency services during an emergency - charging them for it is bullshit.I'm your huckleberry...
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02-03-08, 01:29 PM #5Rookie
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It is like $3.50 per month here for each phone numberStay safe, let's all go home.
02-03-08, 01:33 PM #6
IIRC there is a 911 fee on the phone lines here as well."Like" us on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Offic...93147194083228
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02-03-08, 06:42 PM #7
I think our 911 fees are rolled into some other local taxes on our phone bill. Nothing is free, someone has to pay for the 911 centers.
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02-05-08, 03:37 AM #8
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