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Tax on phone bills, prepaid purchases increases from 75 cents to $1, first increase since 1995

PMG FILE PHOTO - Columbia 911 Communications District emergency dispatchers are shown here. The state 911 tax on all phone bills increased from 75 cents to $1 starting Jan. 1.

The tax is added to all phone bills statewide, plus retail transactions for pre-paid wireless purchases.

The tax hasn't increased since 1995.

Columbia 911 Communications District Executive Director Mike Fletcher said the 911 districts have not received projections of 911 tax income from the state, but the 911 centers won't receive additional funding until the third quarter of 2020.

"All the while, all of our costs of doing business continue to rise each year, Fletcher said. An increase "has been proposed and fought for by the 911 industry for years, because it has been stagnant ... It's a long time coming," Fletcher said.

"Each of the centers get fewer and fewer dollars, and so we have to make up those differences internally, and some of that impact is cutting of services," he added.

The state 911 tax is separate from the 911 local option levy paid in some areas.

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