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St. Lawrence County wants 9-11 surcharge money

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St. Lawrence County could receive up to $2.1 million annually if the state changed its distribution formula for a surcharge imposed on cellphone bills after Sept. 11.

The $1.20 per month surcharge was intended to address communication shortcomings exposed by the terrorist attacks.

However, the state has not shared the money equitably, county Emergency Services Director Joseph M. Gilbert told county legislators who met Monday at the Ogdensburg Bridge & Port Authority.

Last year, the state collected $192 million but shared only $9.3 million with local governments. The county received $165,000 through grant programs, Mr. Gilbert said.

The surcharge this year is expected to generate more than $210 million.

Bills previously introduced in both the state Senate and Assembly would increase the share of the money to first responders and emergency services to an annual amount of 58.3 percent, so that local groups can rebuild and upgrade communications equipment.

Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, questioned how the state used the money it had kept, but Mr. Gilbert did not have a breakdown.

Before going on a tour of the OBPA, legislators also recognized Helena Fire Chief Frank Burns for pulling Martha Grow from a burning car May 15.

Legislators also scheduled a public hearing on proposed additions to Agricultural Districts 1 and 2 for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23 in Room 226 of the county courthouse.

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