Pennsylvania 911 cell phone fee raised



(The Center Square) — Pennsylvania’s phone surcharge for 911 services will soon increase, bringing in an estimated $60 million more for the state’s emergency safety net.

Worked into Act 34 and passed Wednesday night, the current $1.65 surcharge was set to expire in January. Under the new law, that surcharge will extend until February 29, 2024 until increasing to $1.95 until it expires January 31, 2026.

In fiscal year 2022-23, the surcharge collected $331 million, according to the law’s fiscal note. The new rate is expected to bring in $392 million in a full fiscal year.

Without the surcharge, the money would be raised through county property taxes.

The law also requires an efficiency study on 911 services to see how other states run 911 services and consider combining the services with other emergency services like the state’s 998 suicide and crisis lifeline. The study will also consider whether employees could work from home. That study will be submitted at the end of 2024.

Combining 911 services might be necessary. A report from the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee noted that many call centers had vacancy rates over 20%.

The increase is a compromise on a proposal Gov. Josh Shapiro made during the budget process; Shapiro wanted to raise the surcharge to $2.03 and peg it to inflation. Shapiro’s proposal was less than that proposed by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, which requested the fee be $2.30 with an annual increase of 15 cents.

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