Location:
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE; REGIONAL PLANNING;

OLR Research Report


March 3, 2010

 

2010-R-0113

PUBLIC SAFETY ANSWERING POINTS AND ENHANCED 9-1-1 FUND

By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst

You asked for general information about the state's enhanced 9-1-1 (E 9-1-1) program, including (1) the types of subsidies the Office of State-Wide Emergency Telecommunications (OSET) provides to towns; (2) the number of regional and multitown public safety answering points (PSAPs) in the state; (3) the number of towns that are, and are not, part of a multi-jurisdiction PSAP; (4) how much towns that are not part of a multi-jurisdiction PSAP would save by becoming part of one; (5) the balance in the E 9-1-1 Telecommunications Fund; and (6) other related information.

SUMMARY

OSET is responsible for administering the state's E 9-1-1 program. Almost one-half (82) of the state's municipalities operate stand-alone PSAPs (see Attachment 1). PSAPs are facilities that receive 9-1-1 calls and dispatch emergency response services (e.g., fire and police) or transfer the calls to other public safety agencies. 

OSET offers financial incentives to encourage municipalities to take advantage of economies of scale by (1) forming multi-jurisdiction PSAPs and (2) consolidating PSAP operations by eliminating secondary answering points (facilities to which PSAPs transfer 9-1-1 calls instead of dispatching emergency services or transferring the calls to another public safety agency (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-1(6)). OSET provides:

1. annual subsidies to towns with PSAPs that receive and process 9-1-1 calls for three or more towns (regional emergency telecommunication centers) and towns with PSAPs that receive and process 9-1-1 calls for two towns (multi-town PSAPs);

2. one-time, transition funding to help towns offset the cost of forming regional or multi-town PSAPs;

3. annual subsidies to towns that have more than 40,000 residents and (b) reduced funding for each year that they continue to use a secondary answering point; and

4. service credits to encourage dispatch centers to regionalize.

Currently, there are:

1. seven regional PSAPs serving 73 member towns;

2. nine multitown PSAPs;

3. 22 towns receiving subsidies based on the 40,000 population threshold, with four receiving reduced funding because they operate secondary answering points; and

4. 60 towns that get no subsidies because they operate stand-alone PSAPs and do not qualify for the population-based subsidy.

OSET has indicated that, because of the number of variables involved, it cannot say definitively how much the 82 towns with stand-alone PSAPs would save if they formed multi-jurisdiction PSAPs.

The E 9-1-1 system is funded by fees assessed against subscribers of local telephone and commercial mobile radio services. The money is placed in the E 9-1-1 Telecommunications Fund and can only be used to pay for the expenses of the E 9-1-1 program. We were unable to get the fund's balance from OSET and will provide it in a follow-up report.

OSET

The law requires OSET to administer an E 9-1-1 system in accordance with Department of Public Safety (DPS) regulations (CGS 28-24). Among other things, OSET provides financial assistance to police, fire, and emergency medical service agencies that provide E 9-1-1 services. Currently there are 107 PSAPs in Connecticut, including 98 municipal and eight State Police facilities and one facility at the University of Connecticut.

A 1996 task force report on E 9-1-1 telecommunication services concluded that regional PSAPs are efficient and cost effective and recommended encouraging towns operating (1) stand-alone PSAPs to regionalize or form joint ventures with neighboring communities and (2) secondary answering points to consolidate their emergency telecommunication centers (i.e., fire, police, and emergency medical services). OSET offers many financial incentives to encourage towns to take advantage of economies of scale by forming multi-jurisdiction PSAPs and consolidating their E 9-1-1 operations.

OSET provides (1) subsidies to regional and multi-town PSAPs, (2) transition grants to help towns offset the costs of forming multi-jurisdiction PSAPs, (3) enhanced subsidies to municipalities with more than 40,000 residents, and (4) service credits to support regional dispatch services (referred to as coordinated medical emergency direction (CMED) services in regulations).

OSET disburses the subsidies based on a DPS formula that considers aggregate population, number of 9-1-1 calls, and number of times emergency services were dispatched (Conn. Agencies Regs. 28-24-1 et seq.). The formula is designed to give the largest subsidies to towns that have consolidated services and are served by regional PSAPs. A municipality with fewer than 40,000 residents does not receive subsidies if it operates a stand-alone PSAP. But OSET pays for the 9-1-1 equipment of all the towns and reimburses them at 10 cents per capita for costs incurred to train and certify telecommunicators (people who take 9-1-1 calls and dispatch emergency services).

SUBSIDIES

Regional and Multi-Town PSAPs

A “regional PSAP” or “regional emergency telecommunications center” is an entity authorized by OSET as a PSAP to receive and process 9-1-1 calls for at least three municipalities (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-1(b)(1)). A “multi-town PSAP” receives and processes calls for two municipalities (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-1(b)(9)).

Currently there are seven regional PSAPs in the state serving 73 towns as shown in Table 1. There are 9 multi-town PSAPs as shown on Table 2.

Table 1: 73 Towns Served by Regional PSAPs

1. Andover

20. Durham

37. Lebanon

56. Salisbury

2. Ashford

21. East Haddam

38. Lisbon

57. Scotland

3. Barkhamsted

22. East Hampton

39. Litchfield

58. Sharon

4. Beacon Falls

23. Eastford

40. Lyme

59. Sherman

5. Bethlehem

24. Ellington

41. Mansfield

60. Somers

6. Bolton

25. Essex

42. Marlborough

61. Sprague

7. Bozrah

26. Goshen

43. Middlefield

62. Stafford

8. Bridgewater

27. Griswold

44. Morris

63. Sterling

9. Brooklyn

28. Groton

45. New Canaan

64. Thompson

10. Canaan

29. Haddam

46. New Hartford

65. Tolland

11. Canterbury

30. Hampton

47. North Stonington

66. Union

12. Chaplin

31. Hartland

48. Norfolk

67. Voluntown

13. Chester

32. Harwinton

49. Old Lyme

68. Warren

14. Colchester

33. Hebron

50. Oxford

69. Washington

15. Colebrook

34. Kent

51. Plainfield

70. Westbrook

16. Columbia

33. Hebron

52. Pomfret

71. Willington

17. Cornwall

34. Kent

53. Prospect

72. Woodbury

18. Coventry

35. Killingly

54. Roxbury

73. Woodstock

19. Deep River

36. Killingworth

55. Salem

 

Source: OSET

Table 2: Multi-Town PSAPs

1. Burlington-Farmington

6. Milford-Woodmont*

2. Franklin-Windham

7. Newtown-Borough of Newtown*

3. Granby-East Granby

8. Old Saybrook-Fenwick*

4. Ledyard-Preston

9. Stonington-Borough of Stonington*

5. Middletown-Portland

 

Source: OSET

*Note: Designated by OSET as multi-town PSAPs because of the boroughs within their towns.

Towns served by regional PSAPs receive more funds than similarly sized towns served by multi-town PSAPs. In FY 2009-10, OSET provided $3,286,670 for the 73 towns served by regional PSAPs and $609,103 for the 14 towns served by multi-town PSAPs (OSET's 2009 Annual Report to the Legislature).

Transition Grants

OSET provides transition grants to help towns defray the costs of forming new regional or multi-town PSAPs. OSET, subject to available funding, will reimburse municipalities up to $250,000 for (1) the costs associated with relocating an existing, stand-alone PSAP and (2) non-recurring costs associated with providing additional functional capacity at the regional PSAP (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-5(a)).

One-time funding is also available to conduct consolidation and regionalization studies to determine viability and cost savings. The funding is provided at the rate of $15,000 for two municipalities plus an additional $5,000 for each additional municipality (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-5(a)(4)). OSET reports that one regionalization study is currently underway. It involves establishing a PSAP in Trumbull to serve Easton, Monroe, and Trumbull.

Large Municipalities

Connecticut municipalities with more than 40,000 residents receive subsidies for their PSAPs (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-4).  If the municipalities are part of a multi-town or regional PSAP they receive only one subsidy (i.e., the regional, multi-town, or population-based subsidy) (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24(c)).

There are currently 22 municipalities receiving population-based subsidies (see Table 3).  Shelton has fallen below the 40,000 threshold and will not receive the population-based funding next fiscal year, according to OSET.

Table 3: Municipalities Receiving OSET Annual Population-Based Subsidy

1 Bridgeport

12. New Britain

2. Bristol

13. New Haven

3. Danbury

14. Norwalk

4. East Hartford

15. Shelton

5. Enfield

16. Southington

6. Fairfield

17. Stamford

7. Greenwich

18. Stratford

8. Hamden

19. Wallingford

9. Hartford

20. Waterbury

10. Manchester

21. West Hartford

11. Meriden

22. West Haven 

Source: OSET

For FY 2009-10, OSET provided $4,630,074 in population-based subsidies to towns (OSET's 2009 Annual Report to the Legislature).

Consolidation of PSAP Operations. A municipality with more than 40,000 people receives reduced E 9-1-1 subsidies, under a formula, for each year it continues to use secondary answering points. If it eliminates the secondary operation, OSET restores funding to the level for a full-service PSAP. OSET holds withheld funds for three years and if the municipality does not consolidate its PSAPs during that period, deposits the funds in the E 9-1-1 Telecommunications Fund (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-3(j)(4)(A) & (B) & 28-24-4)).

Four municipalities have secondary answering points and are receiving reduced funding, according to OSET: Bridgeport, Danbury, Meriden, and Southington.

State Police

According to OSET, the State Police answers approximately one-third of all 9-1-1 calls. OSET pays the State Police $1 per call. The total amount of funding for FY 2009-10 was $674,139 (OSET's 2009 Annual Report to the Legislature).

CMED Subsidies

All towns are eligible for a regional emergency telecommunications service credit for CMED services. CMED centers provide emergency medical communication and dispatch services. To receive the credits, entities must be approved as CMEDs by the Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Medical Services and operate under approved plans for communication systems developed by Emergency Medical Service councils. CMED centers receive a $.30 per capita annual subsidy (Conn. Agencies Reg. 28-24-7).

In FY 2009-10, OSET provided $1,050,872.70 in CMED subsidies (OSET's 2009 Annual Report to the Legislature).

SAVINGS TO TOWNS

Because of economies of scale, towns that choose to regionalize save on equipment costs (e.g., telephone equipment, radios, recorders, radio control consoles) as well as operating costs such as salaries, maintenance, and other related overhead costs. They also benefit from the OSET subsidy.

Steve Verbil, emergency telecommunications manager for OSET, says it is difficult to determine how much all the municipalities operating stand-alone PSAPs would save by regionalizing because of the number of variables involved. The savings would depend on several factors, including the number of towns and people the PSAP serves, the number of calls it processes, and the number of times it dispatches emergency services. He said he is able to make some assumptions, based on his experience and a review of some regional and consolidation studies, but cautions that the figures have not been vetted. He said one 2008 study for East Lyme, Montville, New London, and Waterford (combined population 83,132) estimated first-year savings at $621,804. Verbil pointed out that the report includes numerous caveats.

ENHANCED 9-1-1 TELECOMMUNICATIONS FUND

The DPS commissioner must annually determine the amount of funds needed to develop and administer the E 9-1-1 system. The funds pay for PSAP equipment and enhancements, network and database expenses, telecommunicator training, and the various subsidies to PSAPs and CMEDs.

Funding for the system is generated by a monthly surcharge levied on all phone lines (CGS 28-30a). The Department of Public Utility Control sets the surcharge based upon cost and usage data provided by OSET. The current rates start at 47 cents per line per month, and customers with multiple lines are rated on a sliding scale. (CGS 16-256g, limits the maximum charge to 50 cents per line.) Customers pay the surcharge to their telephone service provider which, in turn, remits it to OSET monthly for deposit in the E 9-1-1 Telecommunications Fund.

VR:ts

Attachment 1: Eighty-Two Towns with Stand-Alone PSAPs

1. Ansonia

29. Hartford*

57. Simsbury

2. Avon

30. Madison

58. South Windsor

3. Berlin

31. Manchester*

59. Southbury

4. Bethany

32. Meriden*

60. Southington*

5. Bethel

33. Middlebury

61. Stamford*

6. Bloomfield

34. Monroe

62. Stratford*

7. Branford

35. Montville

63. Suffield

8. Bridgeport*

36. Naugatuck

64. Thomaston

9. Bristol*

37. New Britain*

65. Torrington

10. Brookfield

38. New Canaan

66. Trumbull

11. Canton

39. New Fairfield

67. Vernon

12. Cheshire

40. New Haven*

68. Wallingford*

13. Clinton

41. New London

69. Waterbury*

14. Cromwell

42. New Milford

70. Waterford

15. Danbury*

43. Newington

71. Watertown

16. Darien

44. North Branford

72. West Hartford*

17. Derby

45. North Haven

73. West Haven*

18. East Hartford*

46. Norwalk*

74. Weston

19. East Haven

47. Norwich

75. Westport

20. East Lyme

48. Orange

76. Wethersfield

21. East Windsor

49. Plainville

77. Wilton

22. Easton

50. Plymouth

78. Windsor Locks

23. Enfield*

51. Putnam

79. Windsor

24. Fairfield*

52. Redding

80. Winsted

25. Glastonbury

53. Ridgefield

81. Wolcott

26. Greenwich*

54. Rocky Hill

82. Woodbridge

27. Guilford

55. Seymour

 

28. Hamden*

56. Shelton*

 

Source: OSET

*22 towns receiving OSET population-based subsidies