BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s 911 Board of Directors meets Tuesday, to discuss sending a new levy to voters, next year. 911 Director Steve Reinke says they still need to hammer out details, including which election to aim for, and exactly how much the service district needs. "The district has a permanent funding rate of only 16.18-cents per 1,000 that was established back when the district was created in 1988. Over the years, the district has had multiple operating levies every five years, in order to sustain our operations. What we’d like to do is basically, dissolve the old one and reconstitute the district as a new agency with a new higher permanent funding rate."
Reinke tells KBND a new state partnership should cover just over half of the $13 million needed for a new radio system. However, the district expects to ask for a levy to help fund the other $6 million. "It looks like about a third to half of the cost of the additional ask that we will be doing will be to cover our long-term operations, and the other half will be to operate and maintain this radio system in the long term. One of the best things about the partnership with the state is we aren’t on the hook for all of the maintenance costs. And, the other half would pay for building and maintaining a new radio system."
He says more money is needed to increase staffing, as well. "If you’re speaking with a dispatcher and you’re reporting a major event, he or she may be engaged in also trying to manage their field responders and what they’re doing and dispatching at the same time. So, we are going to, with this levy, be able to staff more dedicated call receivers so when people call, the person they’re talking to isn’t distracted or trying to two things at once; they can really focus on delivering that service level that we think people deserve."
The 911 Board will discuss levy details, including how much money to ask for and whether to send the request to voters in May or wait until November 2016. A final decision is expected by the end of October.