Jackson County voters approve 911 funding measure

By Jeff Fox jeff.fox@examiner.net

Jackson County voters on Tuesday put 911 funding on solid long-term footing with approval of $1-a-month fee on cell phones.

The vote, with some absentee ballots still being counted Wednesday, was 129,944 yes, or 51.32 percent, to 123,256 no.

“I’m just so grateful for the voters who supported this,” said County Legislator Jeanie Lauer, R-Blue Springs, who championed the 911 change during her eight years in the Missouri House, getting a bill passed in 2018 to allow counties to go to their voters and ask for the fee.

She said she merely got the ball to the goal line. 

“And the citizens got it over,” she said.

Although the vast majority of 911 cases are from cell phones, Missouri remains the only state without a 911 tax for that service. It relies on land-line fees; some counties also use sales tax money. 

As more and more people get rid of their landlines, that source of revenue is shrinking – a $600,000 annual deficit in Jackson County alone. The county says approval of the tax addresses that deficit and gives the county the money for the next 911 upgrades, meaning a person in an emergency can more quickly and accurately be located.