March 25, 2003

Senators of Horry County Delegation

South Carolina Senate

RE: Proposed Provisos 73.1.sf and 73.1 int. – Transfer of CMRS E9-1-1 Surcharge Funds

As Deputy Director, I represent the day to day operations of Horry County E9-1-1 Communications, which consists of personnel that handle 9-1-1calls and emergency radio traffic for Horry County. I am respectfully submitting this pursuant to my responsibility to you, to the citizens of Horry County, to the personnel, and to Horry County’s emergency 9-1-1 wireless enhanced communications systems.

The House’s proposed budget includes Provisos 73.1sf and 73.1int. that would transfer $4.3 million from the state CMRS E9-1-1 surcharge sub-fund to the general fund, remove the statutory restrictions on the use of the surcharge money for emergency 9-1-1 wireless access for this year, and appropriate these funds for other purposes.

There are two phases in the implementation of wireless 9-1-1 to which the Code dedicates these funds. The sub-fund reimbursed approximately four million dollars of Phase 1 wireless provider costs, and two million dollars annually are anticipated. The fund has reimbursed only two hundred thousand of the approximately twenty million dollars of Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) reimbursement for Phase II, and what the wireless providers will request of the approximately fifty million in costs they expect is unknown.

Consequently, taking this $4.3 million will leave insufficient funds to reimburse the cities and counties that provide the 9-1-1 centers, the telephone companies, and the wireless service providers for the costs of their provision of Automatic Location Identification services. Thus, taxpayers and subscribers will pay through rates for services they had already subsidized through this surcharge – or these life saving features and services will be delayed or shortchanged. Creating this funding shortage will most likely put a strain on the wireless enhanced 9-1-1 partnerships between public safety and the private sector, which the General Assembly has been fostering so effectively.

This non-9-1-1 expenditure of these user fees will have detrimental impacts in implementing enhanced 9-1-1 safety features and services in South Carolina, with direct and indirect effects on 9-1-1 and the public safety answering points (PSAPs) throughout the state. Since wireless 9-1-1 calls now make up approximately 40% of total 9-1-1 call volume, any action that could delay the implementation of such services is significant and may adversely affect the public’s safety and wellbeing.

Please consider whether the continuing wireless E9-1-1 uses for that money, and the potentially resultant life-saving impacts, to which the General Assembly wisely limited its expenditure, should take precedence over its contribution to addressing the state’s overall fiscal shortfall, and whether you should oppose these provisos as short term expedients at the expense of the public’s safety. We are seeing this trend of taking dedicated 9-1-1 funds across the nation and this is going to impact the preservation of life and property.

We, SC NENA, the Local Government 9-1-1 Community, greatly appreciate your consideration of this very important matter, and respectfully urge that you oppose these provisos and continue to provide support for the life-saving impacts of wireless enhanced 9-1-1 services. Please call me with any questions.


S/Renee Hardwick, ENP
Deputy Director