Thurston County voters will decide this November whether to double the sales and use tax that funds emergency communication systems and facilities — a measure that Thurston 911 Communications says is necessary to replace outdated radio equipment.
The Thurston County Board of Commissioners voted to include the measure on the November ballot, at the request of TCOMM. It would increase the current tax from one-tenth of one percent to two-tenths of one percent — an extra penny for each $10 purchase.
TCOMM says it needs to replace its 40-year-old analog public safety radio system, the deficiencies of which were exposed during the Amtrak train derailment in December of 2017 — causing difficulties in coordinating with other agencies.
“The replacement system will address capacity, coverage and interoperable communications problems experienced with the current analog system,” the agency said in a release. “Every first responder agency in the county, including all city and county fire districts, use the TCOMM 911 radio system, while other agencies around the state and in neighboring counties are currently using digital radio systems.”
The system replacement will be a “multimillion-dollar project,” TCOMM said.