Funding cut for Quincy/Adams County 9-1-1

The Quincy/Adams County 9-1-1 Center went online in 1989, and the funding for the center is unique.

It's only one of few across the state where the local city and county governments split a big portion of the yearly cost to run the operation.

But now, the city of Quincy is cutting funding to 9-1-1 by $30,000 a year. That means another source of funds has to be found to replace the money that isn't there anymore.

On top of the $30,000 the city allocates to 9-1-1, the county comes up with funding as well and under the funding split, Adams County will reduce its funding by $20,000.

The yearly budget for the 9-1-1 center is $1,475,000.

The City of Quincy kicks in $760,000, while Adams County kicks in $506,000.

The remaining balance is funded by a surcharge on cell phones collected at the state level and funneled back to the emergency dispatch center.

Last year, Quincy/Adams County 9-1-1 collected $342,000 from the monthly surcharge on Illinois cell phone customers.

The money that is leftover from the cell phone surcharge, which is $134,000, has been put into a line item account for future capital expenditures such as computer upgrades and converting to next generation communications.

Next generation communication is programs that allow text messages to be sent to 9-1-1 dispatch centers and also voice over internet calls. Now there won't be as much money flowing into that savings account.

Quincy/Adams County 9-1-1 Director Steve Rowlands said, "We're able to provide a revenue shift from capital equipment savings to operating expenses. But at a point in time, that money gets depleted. We're okay for now, but it addresses today's issue forsaking tomorrows needs."

Rowlands said when a center goes to purchase new equipment that is needed to either upgrade the center or to replace worn out technology a center can spend between a quarter of a million and a half a million dollars.

He added that the savings account will eventually be depleted and that will cost more money down the road.

"We would have spent it on operating expenses instead of that equipment. So it could mean either a delay in implementation of technologies or a delay in obtaining new equipment when old equipment becomes obsolete and worn out," said Rowlands.

Rowlands has been the Quincy/Adams County 9-1-1 director for the last 14 years. He's glad for the city county agreement on funding for 9-1-1.

He said across the state many 9-1-1 systems depend on a land line surcharge and with some many people going to cell phones, that funding is drying up.