LANCASTER — As the number of landlines in Lincoln and Garrard counties continue to decline, the local 911 call center is operating with less and less financial padding.
Bluegrass 911 had less than $4,000 remaining in its coffers at the end of October, according to a monthly financial statement provided by Director Russ Clark at the organization's November board meeting Monday.
Bluegrass 911 began October with a little less than $15,000 and had expenses during the month of nearly $11,000 more than its income of approximately $37,000.
Clark said things aren't as bleak as the numbers suggest because there were maintenance costs that came due in October that will not show up in November.
Bluegrass 911 will also be receiving a quarterly payment of a little more than $50,000 from a 911 service charge assessed on cell phones.
Lower expenses and the extra income mean Bluegrass 911 may have a balance of around $40,000 at the end of November, Clark said.
Bluegrass 911 has been largely self-sufficient since its inception in 2007, eliminating the need for Lincoln and Garrard counties to pay for 911 service out of their general funds.
Clark estimated in July the two counties had each been paying about $48,000 per year for 911 service before consolidating their call centers into one.
911 service in the area has traditionally been funded by a monthly surcharge on landline telephone accounts, but as fewer and fewer people opt for landlines, less and less money has been coming in to Bluegrass 911.
The counties' fiscal courts recently passed new ordinances implementing a water-meter fee to fund 911 service, but until the constitutionality of those ordinances has been tested in the court system, Bluegrass 911 is still operating largely off of landline fees.
Lincoln County Attorney and Bluegrass 911 board member Daryl Day said he believes the new ordinances can traverse the court system by the middle of 2013, paving the way for the counties to eliminate the landline fees in favor of the more stable water-meter fees.
"We've got to survive to July 1 in my opinion," Day said. "Anything after that, I think we'll have a ruling."
If Bluegrass 911 can't squeeze by until then on income from landline fees and cell phones, then it would be the counties' responsibility to cover any additional expenses, Day said.
Two possible ways the counties could cover such a situation would be to pay for the extra expense directly out of their general funds or increase the landline fee, which is currently at $3 per month, Day said.