Emergency Service Communication Surcharges (2017-MS-4)

Issued Date
April 20, 2018

[read complete report - pdf]

We also issued 6 letter reports to the following Counties: Niagara, Oneida, Ontario, Rockland, Schenectady, and Suffolk.

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether the six counties audited received and expended all emergency surcharge revenue from communication service suppliers (suppliers) and whether these counties used enhanced emergency communication (E911) surcharge revenues to improve their county’s 911 systems and operations, for the period January 1, 2014 through October 5, 2016.


To fund E911 systems, most counties are authorized to impose surcharges on wireless and landline communication devices. All surcharges are collected by the suppliers and remitted directly to the counties imposing the surcharge. Various county departments are responsible for the collection of these surcharge revenues, while the Department of Emergency Services, 911 centers or Police Departments are responsible for E911 expenditures.

Under a new law enacted in December 2017, wireless surcharge payments will be made to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance.

Key Findings

  • No resource exists to identify all the suppliers operating within the counties audited. As a result, county officials were unable to determine whether all E911 surcharges were received from their suppliers.
  • Officials of all six counties expended their E911 surcharges to improve communication networks and used surcharges received from landline, VoIP1 and wireless communication suppliers for E911 center expenditures.
  • Surcharge revenues alone were not enough to support all the counties’ 911 related expenditures.

Key Recommendations

  • Officials should track all landline suppliers remitting surcharges to ensure the monthly amounts are remitted and allow for trend analysis and audit reconciliation.
  • Counties should continue improving their 911 systems to handle the latest technologies, including NG911 capabilities such as sending text, picture and video messages to 911.

1 Voice over Internet protocol