San Juan County has a measure on the February 11th Special Ballot to improve Emergency Communications throughout the San Juan Island’s. Read on for more information on Proposition 1:
WHY IS AN UPGRADE NEEDED?
Current emergency radio communication in San Juan County faces two major issues.
- Emergency radio coverage throughout San Juan County has many “dead zones”.
- Only 40% of the county is covered by high-quality communications. The rest has partial or no coverage, leaving emergency responders unable to contact dispatch and each other during emergency medical, fire, and law enforcement situations.
- The current system has aged and has a lack of reliability and redundancy.
- Installed in the 1960’s and expanded in the 1970’s – the existing equipment is obsolete, with many replacement and repair parts no longer manufactured.
- The current system has only three sites to cover the entire county.
WHAT WILL THE UPGRADE PROVIDE?
An upgrade will provide the entire county (including outer islands) with high-quality radio communication.
- It will replace the existing base communications with new equipment, technology and redundant capabilities.
- The system will include 20 new base sites around the county.
- Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement and Public Works will be able to continue using their existing radios to communicate over the new system.
WHY NOW and WHAT HAS CHANGED TO MAKE IT HAPPEN?
- The system has suffered from ongoing failures – with emergency calls increasing steadily every year, poor coverage is becoming a huge issue.
- Over the past 10 years proposals have been made by individuals in emergency services to fix these issues but costs have been out of reach for the county.
- There is a significant cost reduction to the proposed emergency communications upgrade due to recent and ongoing buildout of fiber-optics in the county.
WHAT IS THE COST?
Proposed purchase amount is $3.5 million.
Proposed operations and maintenance per year: $150,000.
HOW WILL IT BE FUNDED?
RCW 82.14.420 allows for funding of emergency communication systems through a dedicated sales tax. The tax will be paid by residents and visitors alike, thus spreading the cost of the system across all users throughout the county.
HOW MUCH IS THE SALES TAX and WHAT WILL IT COST ME?
During the first 5 years, while equipment is purchased:
Proposed sale tax: Two-tenths of one percent (0.2)
Impact to me: Two cents ($0.02) on a $10 taxable purchase
Ten cents ($0.10) on a $50 taxable purchase
Twenty cents ($0.20) on a $100 taxable purchase
After year 5, for operations and equipment maintenance:
Proposed sale tax: Five one-hundredths of one percent (0.05)
Impact to me: 1/2 cent ($0.005) on a $10.00 taxable purchase
Two-and-a-half cents ($0.025) on a $50 taxable purchase
Five cents ($0.05) on a $100 taxable purchase
WHY THIS TYPE OF SYSTEM AND WHO IS THE VENDOR?
The new simulcast/voting system with 20 sites meets two objectives:
- Complete coverage and New Equipment
- Technology and Redundancy.
After 10 years of proposals, research and evaluating many radio systems, CODAN Communications, a large international company located in Victoria BC, was chosen to support this project. CODAN has contributed over 100 hours to finding the best solution for San Juan County at a reasonable cost. CODAN has been vetted by the Washington purchasing process and supplies equipment to many of the counties in the state including Washington State Highway Patrol and Washington State Department of Natural Resources. CODAN provides free training to county personnel and is available at any time to analyze and troubleshoot problems.
Please VOTE in the February 11th Special Election!