WKYT Investigates: 911 disconnect and how Lexington's losing funds

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Amy Ross considers her job a calling. "You jump in there and you take care of it. You don't really think of yourself as anything but a caretaker really," Ross said about her job as a 911 call taker. Ross has been answering calls at the Fayette County Enhanced 911 Center for fourteen years.

Lately, 911 centers across the state have been dealing with their own emergency. "A lot of 911 centers in Kentucky are facing financial difficulties," said Director of Fayette County's E-911 Center Robert Stack.

Stack said revenue for the center has typically increased year to year but has now leveled off, and is about to head south. "We're starting to see the effects here in Lexington and we actually think over the next two years, we'll start to see revenue declining as people abandon landlines and go to cell phones."

A web poll conducted by WKYT found that 43% of the people poled use a cell phone and don't have a landline. 37% use both a cell phone and a landline. 20% use only a landline. Stack said, "Since 2000, the number of landline phones in Kentucky has dropped 27%."

Both landlines and cell phones collect a 911 fee on your monthly bill. But the money collected on each line is not equal. It is almost two dollars less for cell phones. "It is 70 cents per month and it hasn't changed since 1998," Stack said.

Stack said the way the funds are given to the 911 centers is different depending on the type of phone. Landline fees go straight to the county, but cell phone fees go to Frankfort first and are then equally divided to every county from there.

"Our technology has to be updated very frequently in order to deliver reliable 911 service. If the fees aren't there to cover the expenses, then centers have to hold off on technology upgrades," Stack said.

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