The radio equipment that local police, firefighters and paramedics use every day for dire emergencies and routine calls is aging and starting to fail.
A ballot measure aims to fix that. Snohomish County Proposition 1 would raise the sales tax by one-tenth of 1 percent, adding 10 cents on a $100 purchase. That would raise millions for new emergency radios and towers, then keep them running over time.
“We’ve never had a reliable funding source,” said Brad Steiner, executive director of Snohomish County Emergency Radio System, or SERS for short. “Converting this to a single funding source transforms everything.”
Ballots for the Nov. 6 election were mailed last week.
SERS manages a communications system for more than 40 police, fire and EMS agencies. Local governments help cover the costs.
Steiner said Washington’s other large urban counties have made the switch. Planning for the changeover here has been underway for years, but Steiner said there’s some urgency to forging ahead.
The old system is analog. Motorola has said it will stop supporting the current equipment after 2020. Some parts are out of production.