Minority Leader Patricia Morgan Pushes for Statewide Computer Assisted Dispatch System to Save Municipalities Millions
STATE HOUSE -- House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R-District 26 Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) would like surcharge fees collected by telecommunications providers, used to create a statewide computer assisted dispatch (CAD) system.
Rep. Morgan said, “In my recently proposed legislation H-5891, all the 911 fees collected for various billed services by each telecommunications provider, will be deposited into a restricted receipt account and no longer used in the general fund. From fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2016, the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety collected a total of $117,865,853.00 in fees supposedly to fund the E-911 system but only one third of that money is used to fund the system. Two thirds of that money is diverted into the general fund.”
Annually, Rhode Island collects approximately $15 million in E-911 fees from consumers who pay $1 each month on each landline and $1.26 on each cell phone. This money is collected to pay for the emergency communication system. However, only $5.4 million is budgeted for the state’s E-911 center; the remaining $9 million-plus goes into the state’s general fund and is not restricted to public safety. Translated, this means $9 million is taken from the taxpayer under false pretenses. This is a deceptive bait and switch that represents a fraudulent money grab, taking money away from perhaps the most vital of government responsibilities: the need to protect the health and safety of the public and our first responders.
“I would like to see that $9 million be once again used for its intended purpose. Specifically, I am calling for it to be used to create a statewide computer assisted dispatch system that will save both money and lives," added Rep. Morgan.
“House bill 5891 is another bill from our Municipal Spending Reduction Package. Currently, each municipality has its own costly system. We can help them save money by creating a more efficient and cost effective statewide computer assisted dispatch (CAD) system. Consolidation will ensure all Rhode Island citizens and first responders have access to the same high quality emergency response systems regardless of where they live. It will also give municipalities the opportunity to save money by removing this expensive line item from their budgets.”
“But this is not simply about the money,” continued Morgan. “Once installed, these systems shorten the initial information gathering time of the 911 call as much as 300% from 2 to 2 ½ minutes to as little as 30 to 45 seconds. This is of tremendous importance to the public as national statistics show that reducing response times by as little as one minute can save 10,000 lives annually. In addition, modern CAD systems also save even more minutes by helping first responders get to the site quickly. Because information can be relayed electronically to moving vehicles, first responders can receive additional details en route. Reduced response times and greater location intelligence are vital when it comes to saving civilian lives and keeping our emergency response teams safe.”
Rep. Morgan went on to say, "CAD dispatch also creates a database so responders are better prepared when they arrive and the system is also capable of running background checks. These capabilities can improve officer safety and constituent care by providing more detail about circumstances surrounding an emergency call."
"Statewide systems are also less expensive to maintain,” she said. “Other states using CAD systems versus individual municipal systems have realized significant savings, including Vermont, Maine and Nevada. This is due, in part, to the bulk purchasing upfront and lower upgrade costs over time. It is possible that current 911 personnel could run the system and reduce personnel costs to our cities and towns. Of course, these benefits will help reduce property taxes. If we want car taxes to go away and stay away, we have to give municipalities tools to lower their spending. This is one proven tool, which would benefit all Rhode Islanders.”
“We need to act demonstrate integrity with the taxpayers on this issue. Each year we are diverting $9 million dollars that is collected for the emergency communication system; let's use it for the stated purpose or stop collecting the overage. .”
For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903