New provincial legislation will be adding a six-figure boost to funding for local 9-1-1 operations once regulations are passed this fall.
Generated through an added fee on cellphones for 9-1-1, the province expects to raise millions in new funding.
“The Emergency 9-1-1 Act was enacted in May of this year, and it’s received royal assent,” said Chief Alf Rudd of the Taber Police Service, during a recent report to the Taber Municipal Police Commission. “Regulations are being developed that will be passed in November. We had some discussions with the provincial government, all the money that’s going to be collected in revenues will be about $17.9 million, that’s for the additional fee that’s going to be put on your cellphone.”
Telecommunications companies currently charge a fee for 9-1-1 services, but this will be different, according to Rudd.
“There’s currently a charge on there you’ve probably noticed, for a 9-1-1 fee, but that’s what the phone companies collect to build and maintain their end of the 9-1-1 system. The new charge that’s going to be put on will actually be money that’s going to support the 9-1-1 function in the province of Alberta. We sat on a consultation committee to develop the act, and we sat on the committee to develop regulations on how funds that are collected will be dispersed, and to who, and what they can be used for.”
Utilizing a grant system, Taber’s share of the newly-raised funding could exceed $100,000.
“At the end of the day, 85 per cent of the money will be distributed out of that $17.9 million,” said Rudd. “Taber can expect an annual distribution of $135,000, commencing in July — it comes in quarterly payments. It’s a grant system, so we have to make an application for the grant.”
While any new funding is welcomed, the grant can only be spent on 9-1-1 operations and related functions, and not become part of general revenues.
“There are spending rules — the money must be spent on the 9-1-1 centre, it can’t be collected by the town and put into revenues. It has to go directly to the operations,” said Rudd.