Some local officials say they struggle to monitor or audit the 911 fees because they don’t have access to the phone companies’ records. “We would get a check from them and that was it,” said John McBlain, a councilman in Delaware County, near Philadelphia, referring to the phone companies.
Delaware County is suing more than a dozen phone companies, alleging it only receives 911 fees from 230,000 phone lines, while there are actually 812,000 lines in use. That gap creates a shortfall of almost $7 million a year.
In Pennsylvania, about 15 jurisdictions have filed cases against more than two dozen phone companies, alleging more than $67 million in annual losses. The state spent about $290 million for 911 in 2014, according to the latest FCC records, but only collected about $190 million via fees on phone bills.
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes noticed the issue in 2014 after he tried helping counties in Atlanta audit 911 funding. He joined with Mr. Schneider to bring lawsuits in the Atlanta area against phone companies that he claims were offering 911 fee discounts to win business. “They’re not losing their money anyway,” Mr. Barnes said, “it’s the public’s money.”