Boone County considering enhanced 911 system

Posted at 4:46 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 16:46:33-04

BURLINGTON, Ky. -- A new 911 system could mean new fees for Boone County residents, but officials say it's necessary.

Boone County police, fire and EMS crews all depend on the emergency communications system.  But officials say it's a system that has nearly reached its end.

"Any significant failure could take the system down," Florence Fire Chief Kelly Aylor said.

A proposed new system could be part of a regional upgrade involving Kenton and Campbell counties as well.

"It allows us to talk directly to one another, plus if we've got an incident on the interstate when we need to talk to police direct, they can put us on the same channel or 'talk group' with them," Aylor said.

The change comes at a cost of about $800,000. Residents like Beverly Foster could help foot the bill with a dwelling unit fee of $88 per year.

Foster has had to call the fire department for help after falling and said she understands the need for a 911 upgrade, but believes a fee of nearly $90 a year per household could take a toll.

"Yeah, there are some people that can afford that, but when you start taking into consideration the older people who are retired and on a fixed income, that can be very difficult," Foster said.

Boone County already has a 911 landline fee, but the amount of money generated from that fee has dropped significantly as many people have give up landlines in favor of cellphones, according to county oficials.

Part of the fee would help fund the purchase of the system, the other would fund its operation, which is estimated to cost $4.2 million per year. After 10 years, the fee would drop to $75 per year as the landline fee is dropped.

"We're at a critical juncture in this system," Aylor said. "We need to get the ball rolling and get it in place as soon as possible."

If the fee is approved, it would take effect in July 2018. It would be collected with property taxes.

Boone County officials will present the proposed 911 fees for feedback during the county's fiscal court meeting Tuesday night.