Fees meant to update 911 system get diverted to other uses

Posted: 12:40 PM, Oct 16, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-16 12:40:09-04

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York trails other states in modernizing its 911 systems to handle greater cellphone use, in part because lawmakers routinely use money intended for that purpose to plug holes in the state budget.

An upgraded 911 system would make it easier to pinpoint the location of cellphone callers or accept 911 text messages. County officials say the state isn't contributing nearly enough toward the estimated $2.2 billion price tag.

Like many states New York imposes a surcharge on cellphone bills to support local 911 systems. The surcharge generated $185 million last year, but only $75 million went to local communities.

New York officials dispute claims they aren't doing enough for 911. They say since 2010 the state has awarded more than $48 million to support 911 upgrades.