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Parts of Illinois at Risk of Losing 911 Services

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People who run 911 dispatch centers in Illinois are urging the governor to sign a new bill into law.

The proposed measure would increase the surcharge on cell phone bills to help fund state-mandated updates to 911 services. Without a signature, 911 centers in some parts of the state are at risk of losing dispatch services.

“If this bill doesn’t pass, some communities, some counties, would be able to stay on or have your 911 system turned on for a while,” said Ralph Caldwell, Director of Champaign County 911. “Others are less fortunate and don’t have the money to do that.”

Proponents of the bill say the increased cell phone charges would only amount to a few dollars more per year.

“Currently, any device in Illinois that connects to 911 receives a surcharge,” said Brent Reynolds, President of the Illinois Chapter of Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. “Outside of Chicago, it’s 87¢. Inside Chicago, it’s $3.90. With this increase for down state, for outside of Chicago, it’s $1.50, so it adds up to $7.56 a year per device.”

The Illinois legislature is still trying to hammer out the details, so the bill has not yet been sent to Governor Rauner’s desk.

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