BEND, OR -- Deschutes County Commissioners agreed yesterday (Mon) to move to the next phase of development of a new 911 levy. Steve Reinke, Director of Deschutes County 911, briefed Commissioners on the benefits of replacing the current operating levy with a permanent funding source, which he says will help pay for a new countywide radio system. "Probably one of the biggest things is, the public safety agencies who are currently paying over a half-million dollars in user fees to be on the existing radio system, those fees will no longer be necessary under the new system. And, that will provide those agencies the funds they need to buy the mobiles and portables to operate on the new radio system that we’re going to be constructing."
County Commissioners are also the governing body of the 9-1-1 Service District. Reinke encouraged them to support asking voters in May to replace the current levy. "And, I think it’s important to point out, this is only an incremental change. We’re moving from 36-cents to a maximum of 42.5-cents, which is a 6 1/3-cent increase if we were to levy the full amount. The 911 User Board and our stakeholders have all agreed that we’ll only use the full 42.5-cents when necessary." He says, on a $200,000 home, that increase equates to about a dollar more a month.
Commissioner Tony DeBone supports the proposal. "People really do expect to be able to call 911 and have a service dispatched for their needs when there’s an emergency. And this is the next generation of consolidated voice and data radio infrastructure. We have analog radios; and there are many technologies available out there, digital, narrow-banding, next generation data and video. And this will empower us to get there." Commissioner Alan Unger agreed; Commissioner Tammy Baney was not there.
A public hearing is scheduled for January 13, after which time, the Board of Commissioners will decide whether there is enough support to send the issue to the May ballot.