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Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Law Changes 911 Funding and Operations

Earlier this month, Governor Rauner signed P.A. 99-0006, which amended certain provisions of state law regarding telecommunications, cable operators, and 9-1-1centers, as follows:

  • The law extends funding for 9-1-1 centers through July 1, 2017. Currently, the Wireless Emergency Telephone Safety Act was scheduled to be repealed on July 1, 2015, but with this extension, 9-1-1 centers will continue to receive funding from the state. 
  • The law creates and implements a uniform statewide 9-1-1 system (except for Chicago) that, effective January 1, 2016, will be administered by the Office of the 9-1-1 Administrator within the Department of State Police.  Until January 1, 2016, administration of emergency telephone systems and distribution of wireless surcharge funds will remain with the Illinois Commerce Commission, and a new Statewide 9-1-1 Advisory Board is created to assist with the transition to a statewide 9-1-1 system.  
  • Effective July 1, 2015, the law establishes a statewide monthly surcharge of $0.87 per network connection that applies to both landline and wireless connections and that will be distributed, in part to local 9-1-1 authorities, by the Department of State Police according to a formula set by the statute.  Prior to July 1, 2015, a statewide surcharge was collected from wireless carriers by the ICC and distributed to local 9-1-1 authorities, while landline charges (and wireless charges set prior to July 1, 1998) at rates set by local jurisdictions were paid directly to local authorities by telephone service carriers.  Local authorities will be permitted to collect locally-imposed surcharges through 2015, but, under the new law, local governments (with certain grandfathered exceptions and except for Chicago) will no longer be able to impose these surcharges after January 1, 2016. 
  • A portion of the statewide monthly surcharge will be allocated to the creation, by the 9-1-1 Administrator with the advice of the Statewide 9-1-1 Advisory Board, of a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 network.
  • After January 1, 2016, no municipality or county may create an emergency telephone system board unless it is a joint emergency telephone system board created by intergovernmental agreement.
  • By July 1, 2017, a county with no 9-1-1 service (currently, there are nine such counties in Illinois) must provide such service by entering into an intergovernmental agreement with an existing joint emergency telephone system board or for the purpose of creating a new joint emergency telephone system board.
  • By July 1, 2017, consolidation of existing public safety answering points (PSAPs) must take place.  Consolidation depends on the population of the affected county and the number of PSAPs in the county.  For example, the statute provides that, in a county with a population of at least 250,000 but less than 1,000,000 (a definition that includes all of the Chicago-area collar counties – DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, and Will) and that has more than one emergency telephone system board, joint emergency telephone system board, or qualified governmental entity, the number of PSAPs in the county must be reduced by 50% or 2 PSAPs, whichever is greater, by July 1, 2017.  The statute also provides that any 9-1-1 authority serving a population of 25,000 must be consolidated into a new or existing joint emergency telephone system.
  • To aid in the consolidation process, a consolidation grant program is established. 
  • In another part of the statute, the law limits the time period for a municipality to complete an initial finding of an audit on a cable television (CATV) operator to 90 days after the information is given to the municipality or third party. The time limit may be extended for an additional 90 days. A CATV operator will not be liable for any past service fees that were unknown to the CATV operator.  The law provides that any contract between a municipality and a third party audit firm is subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
Post Authored by Don Anderson and Julie Tappendorf


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