Bartow County Administrator Peter R. Olson was one of 15 Georgians recently appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve on the board of directors of the newly-created Georgia Emergency Communications Authority.
"Several years ago, the counties and the state began studying ways to create an overall authority to streamline the state's 911 centers and standardize the training using best practices," Olson said.
The result was GECA, an aggregation of local governments that operate or contract for the operation of a 911 system.
GECA's board of directors consists of 15 members, two city officials, two county officials, three 911 directors, one sheriff, one police chief and one fire chief. All combined, this means that at least 10 of the members of the board of GECA will be local officials.
In addition to standardizing operations in the 911 centers, beginning Jan. 1, 2019, GECA will take over the administration and disbursement of 911 fees — that monthly $1.50 charge for 911 services — included on your cell phone bill.
"Under the current system, the ATT's and Verizons of the world send 159 checks to 159 counties," Olson said. "Under the new system, they will send the checks to the Georgia Department of Revenue for disbursement."
The Department of Revenue may retain up to 1 percent of the fees for administrative costs and the remaining fees will be disbursed to the local governments based upon the remitted amounts attributable to each local government.
"This legislation would equalize all 911 fees at $1.50 per month per connected device," Olson said. "Previously, we collected $0.75 for pre-pay phones, but we are making the fee $1.50 across the board."
The legislation requires the emergency 911 system to be a county-wide service unless a municipality within that county also has its own system.
"It's always an honor to be appointed to a board by the Governor," Olson said. "I'm very happy to serve."