In Colorado, the 9-1-1 network, or Emergency Telephone System, is governed by 57 different local jurisdictions or governing bodies. In Grand County, it is the Grand County Emergency Telephone Service Authority (Authority) that governs the system.
In order to fund 9-1-1 service across Colorado, every Coloradan pays a 9-1-1 monthly surcharge (the Emergency Telephone Surcharge) on their phone bill. Coloradans pay this surcharge regardless of whether they are one of the people or businesses that use the estimated 1.1 million traditional landline phones in Colorado or they use one of the 5.1 million cell phones or over 800,000 cable telephone devices.
Te funding from this 9-1-1 surcharge flows to the 57 local governing bodies in Colorado. The governing bodies then use this funding to support local 9-1-1 Call Centers. The 9-1-1 Call Centers handle the emergency calls for police, fire and other first responders and is responsible for efficiently communicating this information to the proper response team.
Due to significantly increased Public Safety Access Point-911 Dispatch (PSAP) operational costs over the past eleven years, necessary and mandated technological modifications and upgrades, and the nature of the county’s rural and tourist population, as well as the geographic area served, the Authority recommended that, in order to provide continued and adequate emergency telephone service for the County, the current 9-1-1 Surcharge be increased from $1.50 to the rate of $2.76.
On November 6, 2019, the Colorado Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved the increase for Grand County. The first increase since 2008, in combination with reserves, the new rate will allow the Authority to fund 50% of Grand County Dispatch operations costs through at least 2024, and also fund anticipated 9-1-1 equipment replacement costs in 2023 or later.
The Authority advised the Board of County Commissioners that while overall dispatch operations and technological upgrade costs will continue to rise annually, ensuring that 50% of annual operating costs will be covered by surcharge revenue and surplus funds for at least the next five years provides greater certainty to the County and Intergovernmental Entities in fiscal planning for their annual contributions to 911/PSAP/Dispatch costs.
Grand County PSAP/Dispatch is also preparing to migrate to the new ESInet system, and that migration is likely to occur in mid-2020. ESInet is a statewide web based 9-1-1 communication system that has been built out. As a result, annual tariffs due from Grand County will increase to $36,000 a year. The first six months of the increase will be covered by federal grant money.
The commissioners unanimously approved the surcharge increase at the November 12, 2019 BOCC meeting.