Prince George's County residents will soon be paying a 15-cent surcharge on their monthly telephone bills to defray the cost of maintaining the 911 emergency number.
Prince George's is one of eight Maryland counties to take advantage of legislation passed during the last session of the General Assembly that gives local jurisdictions the right to levy a surcharge of up to 30 cents for the 911 service.
The new surcharge will begin to appear on the monthly telephone bills of all Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. customers in the county sometime after Aug. 27, according to Don Eveleth, a Maryland Public Service Commission official. County residents already pay a 10-cent state surcharge for the service.
On June 27, the Maryland Public Service Commission granted C&P the authority to collect the surcharge and gave the company 60 days to begin billing for it.
The new charge is expected to raise $463,307 in revenue for the county. C&P will keep about 1.5 percent of the revenue for billing costs, according to Prince George's County Council spokesman Don Hirzel.
A C&P official said Maryland may be the only state to levy a surcharge for the 911 service, although other states allow telephone surcharges for other purposes.
State Sen. Howard A. Denis (R-Montgomery), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said the surcharge legislation had strong support from officials in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League. He said there had been little public opposition.
The surcharge is needed, Denis said, to ensure that the 911 service is not curtailed or eliminated in some areas.
According to the commission, the eight counties that have decided to levy the surcharge are Baltimore, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Frederick, Howard, Prince George's and Washington.