August 26, 1996
Subject: Whether Cost of Dispatch Personnel Necessary for Twenty-Four Hour Operation of 911 Emergency Telephone Service May be Paid from Funds Collected to Establish And Operate a 911 Emergency Telephone Service.
Written by: Gerard R. Gerhard
Requested by: Hon. Edward J. Rudd, Bracken County Attorney
Syllabus: The cost of dispatch personnel necessary to maintain 911 emergency telephone service on a twenty-four hour basis may be lawfully paid from funds collected to establish and operate a 911 emergency telephone service.
OAGs cited: None.
Statutes Construed: KRS 65.750; 65.760; 65.760(3)
Opinion of the Attorney General
The following question has been presented:
Where a county wide dispatch phone service is established by ordinance and provides for payment of one full-time (40 hours per week) dispatcher, may the personnel required to operate a 911 emergency service for the remaining time (128 hours per week) be paid out of funds derived from the 911 fees which may be added to the phone bills?
Answer in Brief
In our view the answer is yes, although the ordinance mentioned would have to be amended if it restricts the use of funds collected for 911 purposes to payment for one full-time position. Discussion follows.
The use of funds collected pursuant to KRS 65.760 to establish and operate a 911 emergency telephone service is specifically restricted by KRS 65.760(3), which provides in part pertinent here:
All revenues from a tax or fee expressly levied to fund 911 emergency services shall be expended solely for this purpose.
We believe 911 emergency services, as quoted above from KRS 65.760(3), means, in the context of its use, 911 emergency telephone services, as such service is the subject of KRS 65.750 to 65.760. 911 Emergency Telephone Service is defined in KRS 65.750 in the following terms:
As used in KRS 65.755 and 65.760, `911 Emergency Telephone Service' means a telephone service which provides the user of the public telephone system the ability to reach local emergency service agencies on a twenty-four hour basis, by dialing the digits 9-1-1. Such a service is capable, at a minimum, of transmitting requests for law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical and ambulance services to a public safety agency or other provider that provides the requested service where the call originates.
It is obvious from a reading of the provision quoted above that 911 emergency telephone service includes the personnel necessary to receive a call to 911, and to refer (or, stated another way, dispatch) the call to a responding agency. Without dispatch personnel, the 911 emergency telephone service could not transmit calls to appropriate agencies as called for in the provision cited (KRS 65.750).
The 911 emergency telephone service, as the above quoted provision directs, is to be provided on a twenty-four hour basis. It follows that dispatch personnel necessary to provide 911 telephone service on a twenty-four hour basis may be properly funded from funds collected to provide such service in accordance with KRS 65.760. More than one full-time position clearly is necessary in order for statutorily directed service to be provided.
The request for this opinion indicated that a county wide dispatch service is established by ordinance and provides for payment of one full time (40 yours per week) dispatcher. If that ordinance restricts use of funds collected pursuant to 65.760, to payment for one full-time dispatcher, the ordinance would need to be amended.
A. B. Chandler III
Gerard R. Gerhard
Assistant Attorney General