Some County Residents Double-Billed for 911 Service; Frontier Says Correction Coming on Next Bills; Other 911 Business

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Published on December 11 2013 4:28 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Some Effingham County residents were double-billed for 911 service on last month's phone bill, but the company involved said it'll be corrected on the next bill.

Frontier Telephone Company customers with a 536 or 868 number were billed $5.50 for 911 service on their last bill, not $2.75 as is correct.  Effingham County 911 Systems Administrator Jodi Moomaw told the Effingham County 911 Board Tuesday that Frontier initially told customers it was an increase in the charge by 911.  That wasn't the case.

Moomaw said Frontier has indicated they "put a ticket" on the matter to investigate why the double-billing happened to get it corrected.  She said Frontier said the matter is to be corrected on affected customers' next bill.

Meanwhile, problems with the aging 800MHz communication system continue to increase in frequency. Moomaw said the 800 system was "down a lot" this past month.  She said 911 was using portables to communicate with ambulances in the county.

Terry White of Effingham City-County Ambulance Service said he and Randy Neal from Motorola have been working on the ambulance service converting to the high band system due to the unreliability of the 800 system.  The service needs to get a new frequency to switch to high band, a process that could take from four to six months to complete.  Any equipment purchased, White said, could also be used when the ambulance service switches to high band.  As to a switch to STARCOM, White said, "I can't say we won't ever go there, but we can't afford it now."

The matter of STARCOM user fees was revisited.  The 911 Board voted several years ago to pay the user fees for the City and County.  The current request, though, is for law enforcement agencies using STARCOM to pay the fees.  White asked whether having 911 pay the fees leaves the door open to paying the fees for fire departments or agencies such as his ambulance service?

City Police Chief Mike Schutzbach, who serves on the 911 Board, said, "911 is secure enough (financially) to do this."  Effingham County Sheriff John Monnet mentioned that when the bonds that financed construction of the Effingham County Government Center are paid off, more revenue would be available.  No decision was made Tuesday on what agencies might be included later.