Tompkins County
New York


Adoption of Local Law No. 5 of 2017 – A Local Law Repealing and Replacing Local Law No. 9 of 2002 and Imposing Wireless Communications Surcharges


Department:Legislature OfficeSponsors:
Category:Public SafetyFunctions:Emergency Communications Rev. and Oversight Comm., Fees or Memberships, Local Law


  1. Printout
  2. LLe of 2017 (This file has not yet been converted to a viewable format)
  3. LL5-17

Resolution/Document Body

              WHEREAS, Local Law No. 9 of 2002 established a surcharge in an amount not to exceed $.30 per month on postpaid wireless communications devices in the County, the funds from which are used to maintain and improve emergency communications services in the County, and


WHEREAS, the recently enacted 2017-2018 New York State Budget authorizes the County to extend such surcharge to sales of prepaid wireless communications devices that today constitute a large percentage of the wireless communications market, and             


WHEREAS, current authority for the wireless surcharge under Article 6 of County Law has been repealed effective December 1, 2017, and the County must impose a new surcharge under authority of Tax Law Section 186-g if it desires to continue the postpaid surcharge without interruption and require the same surcharge of prepaid wireless devices, and


WHEREAS, the funds from these surcharges will offset a portion of the County’s costs to provide and maintain proper equipment, systems and services for the handling of wireless 9-1-1 and emergency calls, which constitute over 70 percent of the 911 Center’s call volumes, now therefore be it


RESOLVED, on recommendation of the Public Safety and the Budget, Capital and Personnel Committees, That Local Law No. 5 of 2017 - A Local Law Repealing and Replacing Local Law No. 9 of 2002 and Imposing Wireless Communications Surcharges is hereby adopted,


RESOLVED, further, That the Clerk of the Legislature shall publish in the official newspaper of the County a notice of adoption containing a synopsis of said Local Law, and shall within five (5) days file certified copies of the enactment with the Secretary of State, the State Comptroller, the State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance, and in the Office of the County Clerk.



Meeting History

Jul 10, 2017 4:00 PM  Budget, Capital and Personnel Committee Regular Meeting
MOVER:Glenn Morey, Member
SECONDER:Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Member
AYES:James Dennis, Michael Sigler, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Glenn Morey, Daniel Klein
Jul 20, 2017 3:30 PM  Public Safety Committee Regular Meeting
MOVER:Martha Robertson, Member
SECONDER:Peter Stein, Vice Chair
AYES:Rich John, Peter Stein, James Dennis, Martha Robertson
EXCUSED:Anna Kelles
Aug 15, 2017 5:30 PM Media Tompkins County Legislature Regular Meeting

Mr. John stated this action extends the surcharge to prepaid wireless communication devices. Currently only landlines and cellar phones under a contract are paying that surcharge. The funds collected are used to assist in funding the 911 system.

Mr. Shurtleff said the amount currently collected is approximately $250,000 annually. Ms. Robertson stated some have claimed this puts an unfair charge on lower-income individuals who can only afford a prepaid cell service. However, there is a need for this in the community and if this is not passed the County would lose all wireless surcharge funds collected.

Mr. Shurtleff stated the total Department budget is about $3 million and the total surcharge collected offsets that by about $500,000. Ms. Kelles stated this is a fee for usage of the 911 Center. She agrees this may put an additional fee on the lower income but cannot imagine the community without this service.

Mrs. McBean-Clairborne thanked other Legislators for their consideration of lower-income individuals and requested a concise explanation as to why this needs to be done and what would be lost if it is not approved. Mr. Shurtleff explained in April New York State passed the budget and revoked the authority of counties to propose the postpaid wireless surcharge under County Law effective December 1, 2017. In order for the County to continue to impose that surcharge and adopt it under NYS Tax and Finance Law, the County must impose the surcharge on all wireless devices; there is no option to only include postpaid devices. If the surcharge is not collected the revenue will be lost.

Mr. John stated the number of landlines has decreased in the past few years and has reduced funding from that source.

Ms. Chock stated she originally raised the question of unfairly taxing those who can least afford it. She has mixed feelings about this because she values the services provided by the 911 Center.

This resolution was adopted by a roll call vote.

MOVER:Rich John, Member
SECONDER:Glenn Morey, Member
AYES:Will Burbank, Carol Chock, James Dennis, Rich John, Anna Kelles, Dooley Kiefer, Daniel Klein, Michael Lane, Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, Martha Robertson, David McKenna, Glenn Morey, Michael Sigler, Peter Stein