When Brookfield renovated its 911 dispatch center back in 2008, one of the benefits of doing so – beyond the fact that it was replacing an obsolete system installed in the 1980s – was that the village would be able to start collecting a tax related to cellphone calls to the 911 center.
But even though the new dispatch center has been in operation for more three years, Brookfield was not immediately able to collect that tax. Instead, until June, it had been going to the Illinois State Police.
Much of that delay can be attributed to red tape involving the Illinois Commerce Commission. For more than a year, Brookfield Police Lt. James Episcopo has been working with the ICC and various cellphone companies to complete the process.
Each cellphone company had to do its own testing to make sure the village had the capability to receive cellphone calls to the 911 center.
“We started receiving the calls as each cell company completed their testing,” said Episcopo.
But while the village has been receiving the cell calls for as long as six months, it wasn’t until early July when the ICC sent a letter confirming that Brookfield would now be able to collect the 911 cellphone surcharge from owners of cellphones in Brookfield’s ZIP code.
According to Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, that will amount to about $8,100 per month or $97,200 per year.
Brookfield started collecting its surcharge in June, according to Episcopo. However, the village won’t actually see the first check from the state of Illinois until September.
According to Ginex, the money can be used for general operating purposes although it could also be earmarked for expenses related to the village’s 911 center, such as dispatchers’ salaries.