Enhanced 911 passes easily

Twice before, Fayette County voters overwhelmingly rejected a monthly surcharge for Enhanced 911 phone service. But on Tuesday, they overwhelmingly supported an E911 measure.

The E911 measure passed in a 5,919-3,468 vote, carrying in 27 of 32 precincts and tying in one other.

The passage of the measure means that county residents agreed to add to phone bills a monthly surcharge of $2.75 per landline phone.

The Fayette County Board voted in July to put the E911 issue on the general election ballot, supporting the recommendation presented by a county board committee formed to study the issue.

The board chairman, Steve Knebel, put that committee together after a Lockport-based company approached the board late last year with an offer to help the county present the E911 issue to county voters.

In addition to Knebel, members of the E911 committee included county board members John Daniels Jr. and Darrell Schaal, Fayette County Sheriff Aaron Lay, Vandalia Police Chief Larry Eason, Vandalia Fire Chief Merle Adermann and Amy Schaal of Fayette County Hospital.

Fayette County is among about two dozen of Illinois’ 102 counties that either do not have E911 service or are in the process of implementing the service.

The monthly surcharge will be added to landline phone bills in the next several months, and the surcharge amounts collected will be accumulated to help fund the implementation and maintenance of the service.

Also to be used for that purpose is the E911 surcharge collected for county residents’ cellular phones.

County residents are already paying an Enhanced 911 surcharge for their cell phones, though that money is not coming to Fayette County. Now that an E911 measure has been approved here, the county will begin receiving that money.

It’s expected to take several years to get the E911 system operational. The setup process will include the purchase of equipment, addressing of rural areas and the collection of information from county residents that will be fed into the E911 system.

County residents have twice rejected an E911 referendum. They voted down a monthly surcharge of $1.25 in 1991 and a $2.50 surcharge in 1995.

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