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Property tax dollars fund new emergency radio network throughout King County


(The Center Square) – King County and 11 of its cities are launching a new emergency radio network to update the region’s 911 system from traditional analog radio systems.

The project stems from a 2015 $273 million property tax levy lid lift approved by voters. The total funding allocated $189 million for capital expenditures, $19 million for non-capital expenditures, $38 million for contingency, and $27 million for debt financing.

The levy rate was set at seven cents per $1,000 of assessed value for nine years through 2024. The average median homeowner in King County paid approximately $54 in annual property taxes towards the expiring levy.

The project was ultimately completed with a $6.5 million surplus, according to King County.

The new digital Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network allows first responders, like police officers and firefighters to better communicate and dispatch emergency and other government services countywide.

The 11 cities participating in the new radio network include Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Redmond, Renton, Seattle and Tukwila.

The system update included five projects: converting radio equipment from analog to digital systems throughout the county; creating 61 new radio sites; installing equipment to 19 dispatch centers; coordinating the migration of antenna systems in approximately 800 buildings; and conducting public outreach in the county about the system changes.

“The enhancements to the [Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network] radios are a valuable improvement to the resources at our disposal and highlight our commitment to bolstering public safety on all fronts,” King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said in a news release. “These state-of-the-art tools empower us to enhance our service to the community, ensuring rapid and effective communication for the safety and well-being of all.”

Over 19,000 new radios for emergency communications have been distributed to King County police, fire and other government users who transitioned to the new system.

“This upgrade of a 20-year-old radio system ensures that emergency responders in Seattle and throughout King County have the tools they need to protect our community and collaborate effectively,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said.