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County chiefs angry over raid on 911 funds

Bair Davies takes an emergency call Oct. 12 at Warren County's dispatch center, which handles police, fire and ambulance calls. County leaders are considering suing the state to force them to distribute the proceeds of the 911 surcharge — that's collected through cell phone bills — back to the counties for dispatch operations, as was originally intended.

Bair Davies takes an emergency call Oct. 12 at Warren County's dispatch center, which handles police, fire and ambulance calls. County leaders are considering suing the state to force them to distribute the proceeds of the 911 surcharge — that's collected through cell phone bills — back to the counties for dispatch operations, as was originally intended. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Erie County Executive Chris Collins could not be reached Wednesday.

But in a press conference in December, he said that New York counties needed the money to improve and enhance capabilities, and that a lawsuit might be appropriate, considering the Tennessee decision.

“Every month, when people pay their cell phone bill, they are being misled about where the 911 surcharge money is going,” he said.

Mark LaVigne of the New York State Association of Counties said Erie County’s lawsuit was expected to be filed within several months, and it was anticipated that a number of counties would join them in the suit.

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