Frequently Asked Questions


Any governing body receiving 9-1-1 emergency surcharge funds must deposit all received funds, including all interest earned on fund investment, in the 9-1-1 fund.

Street signs were allowable as a one-time expense with 9-1-1 funds when a city/county was deploying Enhanced 9-1-1. Any signage being completed now is considered maintenance, therefore not an allowable expenditure with 9-1-1 funds.

Generally speaking, the answer is no. Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) are often referred to as “dispatch centers” or “9-1-1 centers.” The primary work done in these facilities involves both answering 9-1-1 and non-emergency calls for public safety services and dispatching local public safety responders to those calls. Since both functions are always performed in a PSAP, the PSAP budget should include revenues and expenditures related to 9-1-1 call answering and public safety dispatching functions.

The 9-1-1 board does not see a need to allocate costs related to either function separately within a PSAP budget. With that said, the board realizes that many counties contract with a PSAP in another county for 9-1-1 services and in a few cases “dispatch services” are considered a separate function and are negotiated as such. The board feels that counties and PSAPs should be free to negotiate contract terms that fit their local operations and preferences – the key being that the contract PSAP is providing all services even if the terms of payment are broken out and based on separate services. There may be an instance where a county contracts with a PSAP in another county to answer their 9-1-1 calls but chooses to keep the dispatch function local. The board feels this type of “dispatch only” operation does not qualify as a PSAP and that 9-1-1 surcharge funds cannot be used to fund a local “dispatch only” type operation.

9-1-1 surcharge funds may be used to pay for radio communication equipment that allows a PSAP to page and communicate with emergency responders. Such equipment may include: back room radio equipment and racks, central electronics banks, radio software, desktop radio consoles, radio computers and servers, control station radios, control station antennas and cables, mobile radios used by a PSAP as a control station or base station radio, portable radios used in a PSAP for backup purposes and repeaters or paging terminals used by a PSAP.

9-1-1 surcharge funds may be used to pay connectivity costs between the PSAP and allowable communication equipment. 9-1-1 surcharge funds may not be used to purchase radio communication equipment or systems for emergency responders or other city or county agencies. Prohibited equipment may include: portable and mobile radios, pagers, cell phones, mobile data terminal and related equipment, automatic vehicle location (AVL) systems and related equipment, pyramid radios or systems, warning sirens and related equipment, radio towers and equipment shelters.

Allowable costs must be directly related to the PSAP. The purchase of hand held radios for county highway workers or the purchase of software used in a county jail are considered not allowable with the 9-1-1 fund.

It is the board’s opinion that the PSAP should be receiving general fund revenue from those government entities to pay for the services being provided.

Recurring costs may include PSAP personnel costs if the employee’s primary function and duties must be to work as an employee of a PSAP or at least 50% of the employee’s work hours must be spent performing PSAP duties. Additionally, the percentage of time spent by a County 9-1-1 Coordinator on 9-1-1 related duties may be proportionally paid as a personnel cost. Here are two examples showing an allowable and non-allowable use of 9-1-1 surcharge funds for personnel costs:

  • An employee of a county department (Director of Equalization, Planning, Auditor, Highway, Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office, etc.) spends a few hours a week (far less than 50% of their time) maintaining the master street address guide (MSAG), resolving 9-1-1 database problems or serving as the point of contact between the county and telephone service providers and the 911 service provider. The employee may have the title of “County 9-1-1 Coordinator.” The employee determines that 15% of their time on the job is spent working on 9-1-1 related issues, so 15% of their wages or personnel costs may be paid from 9-1-1 surcharge funds.
  • An employee of a local law enforcement agency becomes state 9-1-1 and EMD certified. Her normal work hours are 8-5, M-F. Each day part of her duties include serving as a “backup dispatcher” and she is subject to answering and dispatching 9-1-1 calls at any time. She covers for the dispatcher when he or she goes to lunch or takes a break. On average she answers a few 9-1-1 calls each week and often handles many support duties such as checking warrants, running license plate and drivers license checks, etc. When she is not doing 9-1-1 and dispatch related work, she answers routine calls for the law enforcement agency, handles warrants or civil papers, and many other clerical or support duties. In this case, 9-1-1 surcharge revenue may be used to pay the employees personnel related costs because the employee is qualified to answer 9-1-1 calls (state 9-1-1 and EMD certified), is expected to serve as a 9-1-1 dispatcher 100% of the time if needed, and often does work as a 9-1-1 dispatcher throughout her normal week.

While counties may elect to operate non-PSAP local dispatch center or jail/dispatch operation, 9-1-1 surcharge funds cannot be used to pay their costs. Because your facility is not a 9-1-1 PSAP, none of the associated dispatcher wages can be paid with 9-1-1 surcharge funds.

9-1-1 data costs (MSAG, ANI and ALI maintained by Intrado) should be built into your monthly bill from Century Link. Those costs and the cost for dedicated 9-1-1 trunks paid by your agency are allowable.

Business phone line costs are allowable if you are operating a PSAP. If you are not operating a PSAP then business phone line costs are not allowable.

GIS data that is maintained for your PSAP or the PSAP you contract with is an allowable expense with 9-1-1 surcharge funds. Other GIS costs for data used in a non-PSAP dispatch center would not be allowable.

Because your facility is not a 9-1-1 PSAP, the training costs for your dispatchers would not be allowable.

Because your facility is not a 9-1-1 PSAP, the insurance costs mentioned above are largely not allowable. The exception would be insurance costs for radio and paging equipment in your county, which is used by your contract PSAP to dispatch local county responders. If such costs can be detailed and related as described, they would be allowable.

100% of the contract price paid to the PSAP for PSAP services provided to your county may be paid with 9-1-1 surcharge revenue.

If your facility is not a 9-1-1 PSAP, then position opening ads are not allowable. If you are a PSAP, position opening ads would be allowable.

Tower space rented by your county for the placement of radio or paging equipment that would allow the PSAP you contract with to dispatch calls in your county would be allowable if the equipment is strictly used by the PSAP to notify and dispatch calls in your county. If the radio or paging equipment is also used for unit-to-unit communications by your county responders, or your county jailers/dispatchers to communicate with local responders, only a portion of the costs that can be detailed and related as described would be allowable.

Costs to purchase and maintain repeaters and paging equipment used by your contract PSAP to dispatch calls for service in your county would be allowable as long as the equipment was only used by the contract PSAP and your county law enforcement, fire and medical responders. Mobile and portable radios and warning sirens are not allowable. In a non-PSAP dispatch center, virtually all maintenance costs would not be allowable from the 9-1-1 fund. Specific questions not already addressed about allowable costs related to a non-PSAP dispatch center should be directed to the State 9-1-1 Coordinator.

Each 9-1-1 telecommunicator applicant must pass a hearing test prior to being hired. Any requirement for an annual hearing test is at the discretion of the PSAP. The State 9-1-1 Board has not set hearing test standards in administrative rule. However, the board offers the following standard hearing test result guidelines for PSAPs to consider.

Hearing threshold levels (the quietest sounds you can hear) are measured in decibels (db) at different frequencies from low (500 Hz – the sound of middle C on a piano) to high (8000 Hz, a little above the highest note on a piano). A hearing test (audiogram) result on an applicant or employee should show their ability to hear frequencies between 500 Hz and 4000 Hz at 60 db or lower in at least one ear.

  • 20 db represents mild hearing loss
  • 40 db represents moderate hearing loss
  • 55 db represents moderate severe hearing loss
  • 70 db represents severe hearing loss
  • 85 db represents profound hearing loss
  • 110 db and higher represents deafness

Applicants who cannot hear frequencies between 500 and 4000 Hz at 60 db or lower in at least one ear, should not be considered for employment as a 9-1-1 dispatcher due to the nature of the job. 

Continuing education and training is always recommended for PSAP employees however, at this time only the new hire training specified in SDCL 34-45-24, ARSD 50:02:04:02, and ARSD 50:02:04:03 (2) is required.

There is no current law or rule for alternate power sources at remote radio sites however, common sense would dictate such, especially since Homeland Security funds have been available since 2001 for this very thing.

70% or $0.875 will go back to counties and 30% (or $0.375) goes to the 9-1-1 Emergency Fund.

Of the $0.375:

  • 74% or $0.278 goes to the 9-1-1 Coordination Fund for NG911
  • 26% or $0.097 goes to eligible PSAPs based on population and compliance with administrative rule

SB 174 stipulates that $0.875 of each $1.25 collected will be remitted back to the county (specifically the public agency which has adopted the 9-1-1 ordinance) where it was collected. The telephone providers will report to the Department of Revenue how much they collected in each county. That information will be used by DOR and DPS to calculate disbursement of correct amounts back to the counties.

As of January 1, 2011, all revenues and expenditures related to a PSAP are required to be handled in a “9-1-1 budget” using the “222-xxx-xxx” state accounting codes. Any general fund revenues received by the PSAP must be reported as revenue to and deposited in the 9-1-1 fund as well as be expended from and accounted for in the 9-1-1 budget. In the past, some PSAPs operated with two budgets; one for 9-1-1 surcharge revenue and expenditures and another for PSAP related general fund revenue and expenditures.

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