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Big Changes to 911 Fees Impact Local Govts

March 4, 2019
The good news for local governments still waiting for payments from January 911 surcharges is they’re actually not late. The bad news is the payments won’t be issued until late March.
 
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The reason for the delay is easy to explain: In February, telephone providers began transferring these funds to the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) instead of remitting the money directly to the individual counties and cities. This arrangement is being directed by the Georgia Emergency Communications Authority (GECA). Additional information about the change can be found here.
 
The DOR will be paying 911 remittances to local governments for January on or around March 22. February surcharges are scheduled to arrive about April 19, and so on approximately every 30 days thereafter.
 
But what if there’s an error? As of January 1, 2019, GECA is responsible for monitoring and auditing 911-related payments for each jurisdiction in Georgia. However, local governments still have the ability to conduct their own audits for periods occurring in December 2018 or earlier. Though there is a limit to how far back an audit can go, and each month that window becomes smaller.
 
One option local governments may want to consider is Georgia Municipal Association’s (GMA) 911 Surcharge Compliance Review Service. This service helps communities determine whether telephone providers properly collected and remitted 911 surcharges. Mistakes are not uncommon, and GMA’s findings resulted in some significantly improved remittances for local governments, with some jurisdictions having seen increases of more than 30 percent. More information about GMA’s 911 Surcharge Compliance Review Service is available here
 
Speaking of errors, some local communities still received remittances from telephone providers in February. This is due to telephone companies not understanding the changes in procedure. Cities that have received remittances from vendors, can return the payments and refer the telephone companies to the GECA page. If the remittances have already been processed, local governments can let GECA know the amount by emailing 911authority@gema.ga.gov.  
 
In another 911-related change, the DOR will be using enhanced zip code readings to more accurately identify customer jurisdictions, which may cause a change in the remittance fees a community receives. But even if a jurisdiction receives fewer remittances, their annual 911 surcharge distributions may still increase, as the surcharge for prepaid wireless lines has been doubled, up from $.75 per use to $1.50.
 
For questions about GMA’s 911 Surcharge Compliance Review Service or for more information on 911 surcharge remittances, please contact Alan Dickerson with GMA at 678-686-6213 or Tim McGraw at Local Government Services at 817-980-4516.