Six years after Los Angeles voters approved a $235-million bond to upgrade the city's 911 system, the LAPD is seeking more money to fund maintenance and future improvements to the emergency network.
For the third time since the bond measure passed, the Los Angeles Police Department has asked the City Council to support statewide legislation that would allow the city to impose a surcharge on monthly phone bills to cover the 911 upgrades.
The LAPD's previous proposal suggested a monthly charge of no more than 95 cents per phone line--or $11.40 per year. The current request offers no precise figures.
On Tuesday, the council's Intergovernmental Relations Committee agreed to study the measure's fiscal impact, but only after Councilman Nate Holden got in a few jabs about the 1992 bond, which has yet to be fully spent.
"I just don't know what happens to the money," said Holden, the committee's chair. "Sloppy management, it seems like to me."
Linda Bunker, the LAPD's project manager for the 911 upgrade, said the bond money would not cover ongoing improvements. For example, she said, the department had replaced thousands of police radios with the bond funds, but now components of those radios need to be replaced.
"Over the last several years there has not been support for this because we've had the bond," she told the committee. "We're very quickly going to run out of money."
Whatever stance the city ultimately adopts, any proposal to levy a surcharge on telephone bills is unlikely to survive long in Sacramento, said Judy Steele, one of the city's legislative analysts.
In a report, Steele noted that the city anticipates strong opposition from telephone companies and possibly consumer groups.
City analysts also raised questions in committee about whether the proposed fee would be considered a tax, in which case it could require voter approval.
The full council is expected to take up the matter next week.