Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211

02/15/2005 01:30 PM LABOR & COMMERCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved HB 64 Out of Committee
Moved CSHB 47(FIN) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Moved CSSB 52(L&C) Out of Committee
                 SB 100-ENHANCED 911 SURCHARGES                                                                             
CHAIR  BUNDE announced  SB 100  to  be up  for consideration.  He                                                               
asked if anyone objected to  adopting CSSB 100(L&C), version Cook                                                               
2/11/05\Y. There were no objections.                                                                                            
CHAIR  BUNDE   explained  that  there  have   been  instances  in                                                               
Anchorage where  life threatening and emergency  situations could                                                               
have been  addressed in a  timely fashion with  a 911 call.   The                                                               
problem is  increasing and local  municipalities are  required to                                                               
provide this service,  but at this point don't have  an option to                                                               
pay  for it.  SB  100  increases their  ability  to  pay for  the                                                               
service by charging  $2. It could be surmounted by  a vote of the                                                               
people in the effected area.                                                                                                    
2:07:40 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LAUREN  WICKERSHAM, staff to  Senator Bunde,  explained where                                                               
the changes  appear in the bill.  The billing should be  the same                                                               
for wireless and wire line companies.                                                                                           
2:10:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. GRAIG  GOODRICH, Deputy  Chief, Anchorage  Police Department,                                                               
supported  passing SB  100  this  year. He  related  that 50%  of                                                               
today's calls come through cell  phones, but people are not often                                                               
cognizant of  their surroundings when placing  an emergency call.                                                               
When it's on  a land line, the  police can track it,  but that is                                                               
not  the case  with cell  phones. The  bill talks  about all  the                                                               
surcharges  going  to the  call-taking  center  and he  suggested                                                               
language saying that at least a  portion of those funds go to the                                                               
dispatch centers.  In Anchorage  the dispatch center  is separate                                                               
from a  law enforcement or  call-taking center. That is  also the                                                               
case in the Kenai Peninsula and  other areas around the state, as                                                               
2:13:23 PM                                                                                                                    
CHIEF  WALT MONEGAN,  Anchorage Police  Department, supported  SB
100 because it  provides the flexibility for  local government to                                                               
justify  realistic surcharge  rates to  maintain and  operate 911                                                               
centers. Anchorage  currently has  a 50-cent  surcharge. However,                                                               
out of that 50-cents, 21-cents  pays for addressing line fees for                                                               
every  one of  the customers  they serve  for 911,  about 316,000                                                               
lines.  The department  needs more  money to  actually provide  a                                                               
service. He  said it  receives about 250,000  calls per  year and                                                               
58% of  them are 911 calls.  About half of those  are coming from                                                               
cells  phones and  the department  does not  have the  ability to                                                               
know  the location  on those.  This amounts  to about  $800,000 a                                                               
year for  data base  management; add on  about $260,000  per year                                                               
for infrastructure costs  and the department has  $3 million more                                                               
a year for additional operating costs.  That all adds up to about                                                               
$4 million in  enhanced operations and maintenance  costs. The 50                                                               
cents generates about  $2 million. The rest of the  cost is borne                                                               
by taxpayers.                                                                                                                   
2:17:47 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR BUNDE  asked if  raising the  cap to  $2 will  allow enough                                                               
flexibility to address the costs of  enhanced 911 for a couple of                                                               
CHIEF MONEGAN replied that is  correct. He anticipated raising it                                                               
by $1 at first.                                                                                                                 
2:19:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. ERIN  KALWARA, Public  Safety Assistance  Coordinator, Juneau                                                               
Police  Department,  said she  administers  the  911 program  and                                                               
supports  the  changes.  She  doubted  that  $2  would  hold  the                                                               
department  for  more than  five  years.  She  had no  idea  what                                                               
technologies  will develop  in the  future and  thought a  $3 fee                                                               
would be needed.                                                                                                                
2:21:12 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. TIM  ROGERS, Alaska Municipal  League, supported SB  100. The                                                               
enhanced system  would allow the  call takers to see  the address                                                               
of  the  originating  caller.  Passage of  the  increase  in  the                                                               
surcharge  is needed  to help  the continual  upgrade of  the 911                                                               
system and help in the  development of address databases to avoid                                                               
untimely  response  delays.  Also,   several  of  the  funds  for                                                               
upgrading  911 systems  have disappeared  in the  last couple  of                                                               
MR. ROGERS  suggested a couple  of amendments.  Existing statutes                                                               
have  a differential  rate  for cities  with  a population  under                                                               
100,000  and  maintaining  the differential  will  allow  smaller                                                               
communities to charge in excess of  $2. He also would prefer that                                                               
the election  provision on page  2, lines 8-9, be  eliminated for                                                               
two reasons.                                                                                                                    
     One, if  the authorized  surcharge change  is proposed,                                                                    
     municipalities   don't    anticipate   the   additional                                                                    
     authority   needs  in   the   foreseeable  future   and                                                                    
     secondly, and probably more important,  is it would set                                                                    
     the  possible  precedent  for  elections  on  user  fee                                                                    
     increases. That is  of concern to us. It may  also be a                                                                    
     poor  precedent for  a future  state  fee increase,  as                                                                    
     well, and  we think it's best  to avoid that if  at all                                                                    
2:25:18 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. DAVID TYLER, supported SB 100.  But the $2 limit would impact                                                               
Fairbanks,  because  it  won't  last  long.  Their  local  public                                                               
process allows  them to govern  themselves when setting  fees. He                                                               
also has concerns with the  time constraints and costs associated                                                               
with the voting requirements.                                                                                                   
2:26:59 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.   PAUL  HARRIS,   Director,   Fairbanks  Police   Department,                                                               
supported SB 100, but he wanted  other issues to be addressed. He                                                               
gave the committee an example of  how cell phones enhance the 911                                                               
system.  He  also  noted  that  the $2  would  barely  cover  the                                                               
technology and maintenance since a  good amount of the money goes                                                               
back to  the telephone  companies to pay  for trunk  lines. Often                                                               
people don't change their addresses  when they change their phone                                                               
numbers  and  the master  street  address  database needs  to  be                                                               
updated. On the  receiving end of the call, someone  who can deal                                                               
with  an   emergency  experience  must  be   trained  to  respond                                                               
properly. He supported a $3 cap as being more realistic.                                                                        
2:31:07 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. CHUCK KOPP,  Kenai Chief of Police, said  he also represented                                                               
the   Alaska   Chapter   of  the   National   Emergency   Numbers                                                               
Association.  He  saw this  bill  as  an  ongoing solution  to  a                                                               
growing  problem.  Public  expectation is  rising  for  emergency                                                               
services such  as reduced  response time. He  thought the  $2 cap                                                               
would  give all  municipalities more  flexibility than  they have                                                               
now. Technology  is moving faster  than the state  department can                                                               
2:34:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BUNDE   asked  if  he   thought  the   100,000  population                                                               
differential would impact Kenai.                                                                                                
MR.  KOPP replied  that  there  are 50,000  people  in the  Kenai                                                               
Borough and it definitely would impact it.                                                                                      
2:35:14 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. JIM  ROWE, Executive  Director, Alaska  Telephone Association                                                               
(ATA),  supported a  non-voter-approved cap  of $2  - recognizing                                                               
the individual  municipalities could  exceed that cap  through an                                                               
election. He  was concerned  that the  surcharge would  raise the                                                               
local phone  bills that already  have a number of  surcharges. SB
100,  however,   is  concise  and  addresses   many  needs.  It's                                                               
important to ATA that there  is parity between wireless and hard-                                                               
wired surcharges.                                                                                                               
2:38:04 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. LINDA FREED,  Manager, City of Kodiak, supported  SB 100. Her                                                               
dispatch  system is  budgeted  this year  at  about $600,000  and                                                               
about  $50,000 will  come  in from  the  enhanced 911  surcharge.                                                               
Right now the  gap is being made up from  their general fund. She                                                               
supported the increased cap, but  also strongly believed in local                                                               
control  and  local  option  and   encouraged  the  committee  to                                                               
consider that  a little more strongly  in the bill. Kodiak  has a                                                               
strong public process  and would like to see an  expansion of the                                                               
use of the funds - lines 18  and 19. That has been interpreted to                                                               
mean just the 911 portion  of their dispatch. Emergency 911 calls                                                               
are  crisis  calls  that  come   into  the  center,  but  without                                                               
responders  to  send  out,  there  is very  little  use  for  the                                                               
technology. She would  like to use the funds to  help pay for the                                                               
additional  dispatch  costs.  For   example,  Kodiak  operates  a                                                               
regional  dispatch  service  for   the  entire  road  system  and                                                               
provides services  for many  agencies. This  would give  the city                                                               
the  ability to  raise the  charge and  provide funds  that would                                                               
operate the entire dispatch system,  which is not only city, fire                                                               
and police,  but public  works crews, the  Coast Guard  and State                                                               
Troopers. Right now the surcharge brings  in less than 10% of its                                                               
annual   operating  cost,   not   including  capital   equipment,                                                               
replacement costs for E911 and the dispatch center.                                                                             
2:41:57 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  BUNDE thanked  her for  her compromise  and said  he would                                                               
hold  the bill  for further  work.  He adjourned  the meeting  at                                                               
2:42:41 PM.                                                                                                                   

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