(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen) and Jamel Holley (D-Union) to ensure adequate funding for regular maintenance and technology upgrades to the state’s 911 call centers.

The state charges a 90-cent monthly surcharge on every phone line to help modernize the state’s 911 system. According to a 2015 FCC report on state collection and distribution of 911 and E911 fees and charges, 90 percent of the monies collected here were spent on unrelated purposes.

The bill (A-2371) would require that at least 10 percent of the funds in the 911 System and Emergency Response Trust Fund Account be annually appropriated to help cover the costs of any annual upgrades and maintenance of 911 public safety answering point technology, including the upgrading and maintenance of automatic location identification and technology.

“It is no secret that much of this money is used for general funding purposes,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Without this money from the state, counties and municipalities have to rely on property taxes to fund, maintain and operate their 911 systems. It’s not fair, but without a constitutional amendment, these funds will continue to be diverted as needed and demanded by the budget.”

“This allocation would ensure that at least 10 percent of these funds go towards necessary upgrades to relieve counties and municipalities from some of the financial burden,” she added.

“The use of this fund for general funding purposes has forced municipalities and counties to cover the cost of maintenance and upgrades of their 911 systems,” said Holley. “This bill would ensure that a portion of these funds is dedicated to the maintenance of our emergency systems, so that needed upgrades are completed and municipalities and counties don’t have to go at it alone.”

The bill was approved by the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee, which is chaired by Vainieri Huttle and vice chaired by Holley.