BEND, OR -- Deschutes County’s 911 Service District is moving ahead with plans to replace its aging radio system, in the hopes voters will pass a permanent funding levy in May. Director Steve Reinke says the state will cover about half of the cost of building the new system, lowering the county’s obligation to $6.5 million, which it already has in reserves. "We just signed an agreement with the state for that partnership and with the corporation that’s providing the equipment. But, what we don’t have is long-term stable funding for the maintenance and operation and the eventual replacement of the system when it becomes out of date in 15 years."
Deschutes County voters will be asked next month to approve a new permanent funding levy for the Service District. Reinke acknowledges this is an interesting time to be on the ballot, especially with some voters threatening to stay away from the polls on May 17. He tells KBND News, "I sure hope that that’s not the case. I think there’s so much energy around the candidates of the two major parties, that I wouldn’t be surprised if turnout isn’t somewhat better because people want to get their voice heard on the candidate of the two from each party that they support."
Reinke is optimistic voters will approve the funding, which would not only help fund system maintenance, but eventually hire more dispatchers. "One of the things that we’ve tried to do at the district over the years is be frugal with money, to take reserve funds and make sure we allocate them for projects we need in the future, like the radio system, so we don’t have to go out for a bond; we are actually able to pay cash. We’re hoping that the public sees us as a worthy service and that we’ve earned their trust and respect." The new levy would replace the current combination of levies with one that could increase over time, up to 42.5-cents per thousand dollars of assessed value.