Submitted by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Guild
We, the membership of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Guild urge you to vote yes on Proposition 1 to upgrade emergency communication systems countywide. Our current system is approximately 50 years old, with large gaps in radio coverage, and with no built-in redundancies. The unique geography and topography of our beautiful county make radio communications a challenge, leaving large sections of San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez with minimal radio reception. Many of our partners in the Fire and Emergency Medical Service live in these radio “dead-zones” and are dispatched by radio.
A recent example of our current deficiency involved an interagency rescue operation at Watmough Bay on the south end of Lopez Island. Responders from the Sheriff’s Office, Lopez Fire and EMS, as well as Orcas Fire technical rescue personnel had difficulty communicating due to radio signals being shielded by terrain. Emergency communications in this event would have been greatly improved by the proposed upgrade.
The proposed upgrade utilizes the countywide fiber-optic network to vastly increase the number of transmitters from 7 to 58. The use of existing infrastructure is cost-effective, in that it supplants the need to build an entirely new system, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.
The proposed funding is a sales tax increase of 0.2 percent for the first 60 months of adoption and 0.05 percent for maintenance going forward. This amounts to 2 cents on every $10 of taxable purchases for the first five years and half of one cent on the same purchases in the future. This small tax burden will be borne by all potential users of emergency services, i.e., residents and visitors alike. This funding is dedicated and only be used for emergency services.
Please join the deputies, sergeants, detectives, corrections officers, and dispatchers of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Guild in voting “YES” on Proposition 1.