In the last ten years, New Jersey has quietly collected $1 Billion of 9-1-1 fees you pay on your land line and cellphones. The money though has not been used to upgrade the emergency call system, but to goes to other projects outside of the area of emergency services.
Yet for over a decade, governors and lawmakers from both parties in New Jersey have quietly been skimming money from a special tax on phone bills that was established ostensibly to fund upgrades to 911 emergency dispatching systems across the state.
The latest diversions, according to a report on 911 funding that has been issued by the Federal Communications Commission, totaled more than $90 million in 2018. And since the raids have been occurring regularly in New Jersey for over a decade, the combined phone-tax revenue that has been used for other purposes easily surpasses $1 billion.
“New Jersey is the worst offender in the entire nation, diverting anywhere between 85 percent to 95 percent of the fees that are collected,” said John Donnadio, executive director of the New Jersey Association of Counties, a group that has been pressing for years for an end to the raids.
But the county officials, who have been shut off entirely, note 911 systems need to be maintained, whether full funding comes from the state or not, and that the stakes are very high.
“First responders must rely on a precise, accurate and reliable communications network to save lives,” said Cape May County Freeholder Marie Hayes during a news conference in Trenton on Friday. “I repeat, to save lives.”
Source: NJ SPOTLIGHT