Commission says no to state 911 fee on prepaid cell phones

Platte County is opting out of the state-wide fee on prepaid wireless telephones to fund emergency dispatching services.

Earlier this year, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill imposing a new 911 service charge on prepaid wireless cell phone plans to help fund updates to emergency dispatching services state wide.

Under the new directive, a fee would be charged at the time of purchase of a prepaid plan and the fees would be remitted to the Missouri Department of Revenue for later dispersal throughout the state.

Counties are permitted to opt out of the new fee, which is what commissioners voted to do at the Monday, Nov. 5 regular administrative session.

Commissioners said three-quarters of the money collected in Platte County would end up outside of the county. Second district commissioner John Elliott said while he supported funding for law enforcement, he didn’t agree with this plan to do it.

Presiding commissioner Ron Schieber said he believed Platte County taxpayers had already paid the bill for updating 911 services through consolidation of its dispatching centers.

County attorney Bob Shaw said while counties may opt out of imposing the fee, currently there is no provision to opt in should commissioners change their minds in the future. The new fee structure is also structured to sunset in 2023, which Schieber said was a result of the state’s trial and error attempts to fund emergency dispatching services.

Also at the meeting, county treasurer Rob Willard took the opportunity to memorialize Theresa Emerson, whose obituary appears on page 5 of this issue. Emerson, who died Wednesday, Oct. 31, served on the Board of Services for the Developmentally Disabled and was president of the Platte County Organized Republican Conservatives of America (ORCA).

Willard read portions of the poem “Character of the Happy Warrior,” by William Wordsworth.

“Theresa never sought fame, she never sought attention,” Willard said. “She was ‘the happy warrior.’ I think for so many of us in politics, so many of us in public service, it’s the names you don’t see, the names you don’t hear, who should get more attention.”

The commissioners held a moment of silence and prayer for Emerson during open session.

Auditor Kevin Robinson also reported that the auditor’s recommended budget would be posted on the county website Thursday, Nov. 15. The commission uses the auditor’s budget as a starting point for its own budget recommendations.

The county administration building will be closed Monday, Nov. 12 in observance of Veterans Day.