Growing support from Marshall County business owners for E911 fee

Business owners say everyone should share the cost of 911 and emergency services.

In March, Marshall County leaders said they were looking at five options to change 911 in the county because the current level of funding doesn’t meet their needs. Marshall County’s E911 board said it supports an option to establish $35 fee per year, per household. The board discussed attaching the fee to property or utility taxes.

The board says it supports the fee because it will help its bottom line. The county’s E911 is funded through three sources: taxes on some cell phones, landlines, and a subsidy from the fiscal court. The bulk of funding comes from landlines, but the majority of landline owners are businesses and the elderly. Business owners tell me they know 911 is essential, but the cost needs to be shared.

His neighbors are his customers, which is why Parcell’s Deli and Grille owner Daniel Slayden says he’s glad to pay the 911 landline tax. It’s a service he sees as essential.

"I’m happy to do it if the community understands it," Slayden says.

He wants to keep 911 local, but Slayden says funding 911 is something his customers should share as well.

"A lot of the consumers don’t understand what businesses shoulder and, eventually, what they shoulder," he says.

Landline fees are around $5 per month per line. For businesses that means sometimes more than $60 per year.

Marshall County E911 board chair Bryan Cutsinger says the dispatch center answers more and more calls, but calls from cell phones. Cutsinger says if they’re going to continue at this rate, they need more money.

"Our goal at the end of the day is we want to see the E911 services stay in Marshall County," Cutsinger says. 

Cutsinger says keeping emergency services local is invaluable to the community.

"We’re able to provide to the community, and the service we’re able to provide to the responders is very important to us," Cutsinger says.

There is no timeline for the county to make a decision to change E911 funding. The E911 board also discussed holding town hall meetings in the future to answer questions.

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