Projected increases in the revenue from the use of cell phones will allow agencies who use the Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency to pay less next year, according to a 2012 budget approved by the MECA Board Thursday morning.

Projected increases in the revenue from the use of cell phones will allow agencies who use the Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency to pay less next year, according to a 2012 budget approved by the MECA Board Thursday morning.

The total 2012 budget was $1,861,556, an increase of just over $141,000 from the 2011 budget.

Karen Quarles, director of the county’s Office of Emergency Management, said revenue from cell phone use is expected to increase from $329,500 in 2011 to $404,000 next year.

“More people are using cell phones now,” she said.

Projected revenue from land line telephone use is also projected to rise slightly next year, from $370,400 to $379,900.

The emergency communications agency is funded by fees collected by telephone companies on land line and cellular telephone bills, and by contributions from user agencies, including Jefferson County and all the cities in the county, based on the percentage of use.

County Judge Mike Holcomb, who served as chairman of he board this year, said the proposed budget showed that agency contributions were less (than in 2011) and “I’m excited about that.”

Specifically, the city of Pine Bluff is the largest user of MECA and is assessed 70.76 percent of the total agency bill. In 2011, that meant Pine Bluff was paying $640,802. In the 2012 budget, their percentage share will remain the same but their bill will drop to $579,586 for the year.

Jefferson County, the second largest user, is assessed 25.35 percent, and by the end of the year, will pay $229,570. Next year, that figure will drop to $207,639.

The largest portion of the 2012 budget will be devoted to salaries and benefits for employees, and is just over $13,000 more than the 2011 budget. Quarles said the increase is the result of hikes in retirement contributions and hospital insurance benefits. No salary increases were proposed in the budget for next year.

While the costs of personnel services will remain basically the same, the maintenance and operations portion of the budget will increase by $127,822, thanks to funding from the state Emergency Telephone Services Board.

That board awarded MECA $93,600 for a special project, which Quarles said will be an upgrade on the AT& T software used by the agency. Another $9,969 was awarded to cover the costs of maintenance on equipment used.

Before the meeting of the MECA Board, the County 9-1-1 Administrative Board voted to transfer the 9-1-1 money to MECA for operational expenses.

The board also voted to put $100,000 into the 9-1-1 reserve fund with that money being used in case equipment at the dispatch center needed to be repaired or replaced.

“Thanks to CSEPP (Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program) we’ve got state of the art equipment, things we never thought we would have but at some point, that equipment is going to go down and have to be fixed,” Charles “Cooter” Failla, a member of the board, said.