FCC: NY shortchanging taxpayers though safety surcharge money

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An Federal Communications Commission report released last month claims that the state has been shortchanging communities in the state for years, essentially double billing taxpayers for public safety.

According the FCC, money from the “New York Public Safety Surcharge” that can be found on cellphone bills is supposed to be used for the sole purpose of helping counties pay for their 911 emergency operations.

The report indicates that New York hasn't given out all of the funds since 2009. In 2017, out of $189 million collected, 90 percent wasn't used for what it was meant for.

Orange County Commissioner of Emergency Services Brendan Casey says it costs the county about $9 million each year to run 911 and that any extra money received would offset taxpayer costs.

"It certainly would help us. And it's another reason why New York is so heavily taxed. You have to pay these services somehow," says Casey.

News 12 reached out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office to find out where the money is going. A representative with the Department of Budget sent reports showing that $87 million dollars in 2018 with roughly $1 million going to both Rockland and Orange counties and about a third less going to Westchester.

What’s not known is how much was collected in total. When asked, the Department of Budget representative did not answer back.

News 12 reached out to the FCC for additional information, but was told to expect a delay in response time due to the partial government shutdown.

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