JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Cities and counties would be able to charge a monthly tax on cellphone service if local voters approve, under legislation sponsored by a few Missouri lawmakers.

The measure pending before a House committee would let local governments add a charge of up to 75 cents to cellphone users’ monthly bills to pay for local 911 call-center operations.

Emergency dispatch officials say increasing numbers of cellphone users are burdening their dispatch systems – without paying for the systems’ upkeep. Those centers have been funded by a tax on landlines, but as more people transition to cellphones, the incoming tax revenue has fallen steadily.

“Funding (dispatch centers) with landline taxes has put our 911 system at risk,” said sponsoring Rep. Ed Schieffer, D Troy.

Current law allows local governments to charge a monthly tax on landlines of up to 75 cents, or 15 percent of a local tariff set by the state Public Service Commission. If the local landline tax is below those limits, the law allows local governments to put a landline tax increase before the voters.

But St. Charles County Councilman Jerry Daugherty told the House panel this past week that such a move would only be a short-term fix for a larger problem, because it increases taxes on a type of service consumers are steadily abandoning.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press


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