(Hernando, MS) DeSoto County supervisors Monday upped local phone bills by 20 to 40 cents a month.
They said they needed the money to pay for a new, modern radio system for local police and fire departments.
”We’re one of the few counties that wasn’t collecting the full amount allowable” said Supervisor Mark Gardner.
People with regular home phone lines will now pay $1 a month toward the county’s 911 system. Businesses will pay $2.
Those with cellphones and “voice-over Internet” service already pay the maximum.
”It’s something we have to do. It’s mandated that we change by 2015,” said DeSoto County Sheriff Bill Rasco.
The new system is expected to cost between $8 million and $12 million.
So far, the county has saved $3 million, and needs to put away more.
The federal government has mandated radios that use smaller and smaller pieces of the radio spectrum.
The sheriff says the new radios will give officers the ability to communicate with other departments to coordinate in the event of a disaster.
”We have a disaster or whatever, we’ll be able to talk with everybody involved in the disaster."
The extra money will bring in an extra $100,000 a year and lessen the need for local cities to kick in large sums.
”Within the next two years, we’ll be transitioning all our communications to all of our 911 centers, all of our mobile communications, our EMA, Sheriff’s Department and everyone,” said Gardner, who says you can expect to see the new fee in the next couple of months.