Columbia 9-1-1 Looks to Renew Operating Levy

The Operating Levy for the Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District is funded by the citizens on a five-year basis. Originally approved by voters in 1998, the 9-1-1 Operating Fund is due for a five year renewal.

In May 2013, voters will have the opportunity to renew the funding – at the same rate it was approved in 2003 and 2008 and 2 cents less than it was approved in 1998 – and maintain emergency communications service for every citizen in every community in the county.

This is not a new tax, but a renewal of the current Operating Fund levy that will end on June 30, 2014. The renewal measure will require approval by a majority of voters to maintain Columbia 9-1-1 funding.

The five-year Operating Fund supports all ongoing functions of the 9-1-1 call center, such as 24-hour staffing, training and coordination with local and state emergency operations. Renewal of the funding will maintain the level of efficient, responsive service citizens now receive.

Columbia 9-1-1 Communications District is the coordinator and dispatcher for 16 public safety agencies in Columbia County, including all fire, emergency medical and police in each community, and related support services for area State Police and State Forestry departments.

The Operating Funds are used to maintain ongoing 9-1-1 communications service. Additional funds, including state and federal grants, are used to provide Enhanced 9-1-1, equipment, facilities, radio/communication towers and other essential infrastructure. For example, the countywide microwave/radio upgrade and wireless data system integrated communications of all agencies in Columbia County – made possible by federal funding the 9-1-1 District successfully secured for our communities.

Columbia 9-1-1 Communications is accountable to the communities it serves. A five-person Board of Directors representing zones throughout the county consists of citizens you elect from your communities. The Board members are responsible for seeing that the district is well managed, cost conscious and efficient, while focusing on safety and security for all residents in the county.

In addition, all law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical leaders from each community serve on the Advisory Board for the 9-1-1 District.

14 full time  9-1-1 communications specialists and  3 communications supervisors are budgeted for fiscal year  2012-2013.  In 2011-2012 staff handled a total of 70,311 incidents, and average of 8 incidents per hour, compared to 30,842 incidents handled fifteen years ago.

All personnel must complete high-level training and performance demonstrations, plus attend training and continue top performance standards to maintain formal certifications each year.

The Operating Levy renewal rate is the same as the current rate, which is 2 cents less than the original levy approved in  1998, 2003 and  2008

The May  21st  2013 Operating Levy renewal would be at a rate of  .29 cents per  $1,000 of assessed property value. For a home assessed at  $150,000 the annual cost would be  $43 per year. The District also collects a permanent rate of  25.54 cents per  $1,000 of assessed property value. The total cost of the renewed operating levy and the permanent rate on a home assessed at  $150,000 would be  $81.81 per year. Since the rate has remained the same for ten years and is proposed to remain the same for the next five years, if property assessments continue to go down, the actual collections are projected to be somewhat less than the amount collected in the previous five years: an estimated total of $6,074,502 would be levied; $1,155,655 in the first year; $1,184,546 in the second year; $1,214,160 in the third year; $1,244,514 in the fourth year; and $1,275,627 in the fifth year.

Contacts for further information:

Administrator: Jeanine Dilley  (503) 397-7255 ext.  2223; email: jdilley@columbia911.com

Board of Directors: Kathy Denckla – Vernonia/Mist/McNulty

Dee Wooley – Clatskanie, Apiary

Connie Budge – Rainier/Prescott/Columbia City,

Rob Anderson – Scappoose,

Henry Heirnuller -  St. Helens