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Deschutes voters overwhelmingly approve new 911 district


Deschutes County first responders celebrated Tuesday night as Measure 9-107 passed by a landslide. The new 911 district will provide the dispatch center and communications system with funding from a permanent tax.

First responders were blown away by the results — as of Wednesday morning, about 79 percent in support — and said they were excited for the future of 911 dispatch in Deschutes County.

For the last 25 years, Deschutes County 911 has relied on a combination of temporary and permanent tax measures to fund dispatch services. But the new measure will provide permanent funding at the same level, with a potential to grow as needed.

“We rely so heavily on 911 as first responders,” said Sheriff Shane Nelson. “Without the information they give us, we can’t do our jobs.”

In the latest numbers, voters gave a 71-to-29 percent approval of a permanent district tax rate and new countywide district for 911 services.

Currently, 911 is funded by two tax levies, but one was set to expire in 2018. Instead of having to seek voter approval every few years, Measure 9-107 replaces the two levies which amount to 36 cents with a new permanent levy that has a maximum rate of 42.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

“This is going to provide stable funding so 911 can continue their necessary service,” Nelson said.

The measure will help pay for a new radio system, as well as allowing the district to bring on more 911 call-takers.

“The new measure allows us to go as high as 42.5 cents, but we don’t intend to levy that amount until absolutely necessary,” said 911 Director Steve Reinke.

When the levy reaches the maximum amount, homeowners will be paying about a dollar more for every $200,000 of property.

Officials say the maximum levy rate is not likely to be reached until 2030.

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