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The Colorado Public Utilities Commission established changes to telephone bill surcharges in the state Oct. 1 as directed by a bill passed by the Colorado General Assembly earlier this year.

HB 20-1293, related to emergency telephone service charges, amends the law to allow the PUC to establish a threshold amount for surcharges that fund emergency telephone services on an annual basis. Local governing bodies may then impose charges up to the threshold amount.

“If a governing body determines it needs to impose a higher charge to fund 911 operations in its jurisdiction, it must seek the approval of the commission,” the bill’s summary reads.

Prior to HB 20-1293, a local 911 authority could impose a surcharge of up to 70 cents without approval from the state PUC. The new law dictates that the PUC will set a new threshold rate each year by Oct. 1, which will then take effect on Jan. 1 of the following year.

Anette Stolba, the communications manager for the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, said, “With HB 20-1293, it will have some impacts to residents not only in Chaffee County but statewide. The citizens will see some different things on the phone bills.”

The surcharge rates per phone line for wireless, VoIP and land lines will rise from $1.40 to $1.72 in Chaffee County. Additionally, a statewide surcharge of 10 cents will also be added, Stolba said.

Prepaid wireless users will be charged a flat rate of $1.38 for those plans. Currently, users of prepaid wireless plans such as Straight Talk, Trac Phone or Cricket have a percentage of their plans collected from the retailer selling the plan.

All new surcharges go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“This surcharge will be used to offset the cost to 911 centers statewide to upgrade to the Next Generation 9-1-1 phone system (NextGen),” Stolba said.

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