SERS manages a network used by more than 40 police and fire agencies. (Snohomish County Emergency Radio System)

SERS manages a network used by more than 40 police and fire agencies. (Snohomish County Emergency Radio System)

County Council puts sales tax increase on ballot

The money would support replacing the emergency radio system used by first responders.

EVERETT — A proposed sales tax increase to fix what Snohomish County’s first responders consider an urgent need is headed to voters this fall.

The County Council voted unanimously Wednesday to put the 0.1 percent tax hike on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If passed, it would add an extra 10 cents to a $100 purchase.

“The people in our communities deserve this level of service and have a realistic expectation that when they call, we will come …,” Mill Creek Police Chief Greg Elwin told the council before the vote.“A two-way radio system is the backbone of communications between officers, deputies and the 911 communications center.”

Elwin spoke in his capacity as president of the Snohomish County Sheriff and Police Chiefs Association. Fire chiefs also told the council that the Snohomish County Emergency Radio System, or SERS, is essential.

SERS manages a network used by more than 40 police and fire agencies. Cities and fire districts help cover the costs.

Installation of the current analog radio system was completed in 2003. It suffered its first significant outage in January and, as time goes on, risks of communication breakdowns are bound to rise, officials have said.

They hope to replace it with a digital system by 2022. That includes 5,000 new hand-held radios and adding a few radio towers to the 19 already in use. That’s expected to cost up to $75 million.

SERS has been considering the replacement for the past six years, said Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, who serves as its board president.

“We didn’t want to come to anybody, to County Council or to voters, with anything until we knew that we had milked every last ounce out of this system,” Nehring said.

The tax would remain in place to pay for operations, maintenance and future upgrades.

The timing is crucial, officials say, because Motorola plans to stop supporting the current equipment after 2020. Some parts already are out of production. The new system also would add capacity to handle population growth.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Freeland massage therapist charged with sex crimes

The judge set bail at $7,500 for the health care provider, who was accused of sexually assaulting two clients last year.

Suspected DUI crash injures trooper on I-5 north in Lynnwood

WSP spokesperson said two suspected impaired drivers have crashed into a state trooper in the past 24 hours.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

State Trooper Isaiah Oliver speaks to a BNSF worker at mile marker 31.7 as road closures and evacuations mount in response to the Bolt Creek Fire on Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022, on U.S. 2 near Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
As wildfires creep west of Cascades, county plans for next Bolt Creek

Wildfires are an increasing concern in Snohomish County. A new project aims to develop a better plan.

Everett High seniors, from left, Avery Thompson, Lanie Thompson, Melissa Rosales-Alfaro and Saron Mulugeta sit together in front of their school on Monday, May 20, 2024, in Everett, Washington. The group have called to question their district’s policy that does not permit graduates to decorate their mortarboards or graduation clothing. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
After student campaign, Everett schools allows custom graduation caps

“It’s a really good first step,” the Everett High School ASB president said. But the students still want relaxed rules for future classes.

People hang up hearts with messages about saving the Clark Park gazebo during a “heart bomb” event hosted by Historic Everett on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Future of historic Clark Park gazebo now in hands of City Council

On June 5, the Everett council is set to decide whether to fund removal of the gazebo. It could be stored elsewhere.

People fill the board room for public comment during a Marysville School Board meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Struggling Marysville schools dropped from insurance pool

In an unprecedented move, the board of the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool voted to drop the district by August.

A cyclist heads along Federal Avenue past a bike route sign near 46th Street SE on Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Bike sign project marks lanes, distances for Everett cyclists

Around the city, crews are putting up over 200 signs, geared toward helping bicyclists find their way around.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.