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AT&T finally adds 911 surcharge

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Goes back to Dec. 1 for billing

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Fayette County residents who have landline phone service through AT&T were expecting the surcharge for Enhanced 911 to begin showing up on their bills as early as last December … or January … or February.

The surcharge began showing up on the most recent AT&T bills, and residents were surprised to see about $30 added to their bills for E911.

The members of Fayette County’s Emergency Telephone Systems Board discussed the surcharge billing at their monthly meeting last Thursday evening.

“This is something that was done solely by AT&T,” said Steve Knebel, chairman of the board charged with implementing and overseeing the Enhanced 911 service in Fayette County.

“What they’ve done (with the most-recent bills) is go back to Dec. 1 for the 911 surcharge,” Knebel said, explaining that the ETSB Board has no control over phone companies’ billing for the surcharge.

Fayette County residents voted overwhelmingly last November to add an Enhanced 911 monthly surcharge of $2.75 to the bills for each landline. The measured passed by a 5,919-3,468 margin, carrying 27 of 32 county precincts.

Right now, the ETSB board is focusing on getting the addressing facet of the E911 implementation under way.

Through that part of the project, a company will assign addresses to all parcels of land in the county. Those addresses will be part of the information stored in the computer system used to provide Enhanced 911 service.

The board has had contact with a Minnesota firm that is widely used for Enhanced 911 addressing, but board members spoke last Thursday about soliciting bids for the work.

Knebel and Mike Schabbing, the E911 coordinator for Jasper County, told board members that Fayette County can get a good start on the addressing work by using maps and other documents that have recently been prepared through the Fayette County Supervisor of Assessments Office.

The firm hired to do that addressing can take those maps and attach addresses to properties instead of having to do any mapping work itself, saving the local ETSB Board time and money.

Schabbing worked with an E911 committee formed in July of last year by Knebel, the chairman of the Fayette County Board, prior to the 2008 general election, and he will continue assisting the board until it hires a coordinator.

Knebel said the board is hoping that Fayette County can operate with a part-time coordinator.