Lifton Announces Localities One Step Closer to $100 Million in E911 Grants

January 15, 2004

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) announced that Tompkins and Cortland counties are eligible for state grants to assist local governments in establishing enhanced wireless 911 (E-911) systems now that the New York State 911 board has adopted standards for the fundsí release.

"Enhanced 911 technology can save lives and make our communities much safer by enabling emergency operators to pinpoint wireless callers in distress. This money will help local governments upgrade their 911 systems as quickly as possible," Lifton said.

The $100 million for a statewide 911 expedited deployment program was included in the 2003-04 state budget enacted by the Legislature, after successfully overriding the governorís vetoes.

Under the program, grants will be provided to local public safety answering points (PSAPs), sites designated and operated by local governments to receive wireless 911 calls. Only localities which answer their own wireless 911 calls will be eligible. The Department of State will be mailing applications to all counties in the state and completed applications must be received by March 5, 2004. State assistance will pay up to 90 percent of the costs for eligible items, with local governments responsible for a 10 percent match.

Since 1991, New York wireless phone users have paid more than $200 million in surcharges to establish a statewide E-911 emergency telephone communications system. However, despite the revenue collections, New York State has not yet implemented a wireless E-911 system and lags behind many other states. Wireless customers currently pay between $1.20 and $1.50 in surcharges monthly for E-911 programs.

"Most wireless phone users believe that, as with a landline, a 911 operator will be able to trace their location in the event of an emergency. Up to half of 911 calls are made from wireless phones, and many own wireless phones specifically for use in an emergency. That New Yorkers have been paying for, but going without this life-saving technology, is unconscionable. Itís time to put the technology to work for our families," Lifton said.