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  1. #1
    Illiy is offline Corporal
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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
    permanent funding."

    Councilman Neal Andrews, who cast the lone vote against the fee
    this week, said the panel should not have authorized it without a
    public vote.

    "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,"
    Andrew said.

    "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
    San Francisco.

    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."

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  2. #2
    Morris is offline Chief Wheaties Pisser
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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.

  3. #3
    Willowdared's Avatar
    Willowdared is offline Bendy not Breaky
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    Not sure I agree with a service fee, but I'm all for charging people who call 911 for non-emergency services.
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  4. #4
    MacLean's Avatar
    MacLean is offline O/R Gun mod
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    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.
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  5. #5
    PCSD722 is offline Rookie
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    It is like $3.50 per month here for each phone number
    Stay safe, let's all go home.

  6. #6
    Pudge's Avatar
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    IIRC there is a 911 fee on the phone lines here as well.
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  7. #7
    TXCharlie's Avatar
    TXCharlie is offline Former & Future Reserve Officer
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    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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  8. #8
    JAYBIRD33081's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDawg View Post
    Not sure I agree with a service fee, but I'm all for charging people who call 911 for non-emergency services.
    agreed, if ppl use 911 for some BS reason then they should pay but idk charging ppl to use 911 in an emergency... i wouldnt be to happy with that. but the money does have to come from somewhere.



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