NEW ORLEANS-- More than 2,700 calls a day come into the 911 Center in New Orleans. All of the money to fund it comes from fees applied to phones in the city and it is now up to voters to decide, whether or not that fee goes up.
"Consequently, we want to stay pace. We've come a long way from zero after the storm, where we didn't have any communication systems - and we've now got in our new center the most modern hardened facility," Col. Terry Ebbert is the chairman of the New Orleans Communication District, which is pushing for the 911 fee increase.
If the measure passes, a residential landline bill would see the fee double from $1 to $2. Cell phone customers would see their fee go from 85 cents to $1.26.
Col. Ebbert said that is needed to keep up with the more than one million 911 calls the Center expects to answer next year. He said it will also help the center handle a surge in calls when the city hosts major events, like the upcoming Super Bowl, when visitors bring in hundreds of thousands of additional cell phones into the city.
"If you don't stay up with your workload and modernize your system, the one call that you drop out of a million will be on that you shouldn't," Col. Ebbert said.
Demographer and Eyewitness News Election Analyst Greg Rigamer believes that whether the fee passes or not will be decided by a very small portion of the New Orleans electorate.
"I think that fee will be determined by the voters in [City Council] Districts E & B," said Rigamer of GCR & Associates. "The turnout differential between those two council districts and the rest of the city will be very significant. So, in terms of the number of votes cast in those two districts will be more than enough to either carry or defeat the 911 fee."