April 28 ballot measure for King County voters
At its April 7, 2015 meeting, the Kirkland City Council held a public hearing (PDF) to consider its support of King County Proposition 1, a ballot measure that, if approved, would provide funding through a property tax levy for a new, upgraded regional emergency radio network that is used for dispatching and communicating with police, fire and other first responders. In a unanimous vote, the Kirkland City Council approved Resolution R-5120 formalizing its support of Proposition 1. Proposition 1 proposes a levy rate of not more than $0.07 per $1,000 of assessed valuation for nine years beginning in 2016 and will appear on the April 28, 2015 ballot for King County voters.
King County’s emergency radio system is owned by four separate agencies: King County, the City of Seattle, Eastside Public Safety Communications Agency (EPSCA) which includes the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, and Mercer Island and Valley Communications Center (ValleyCom), which includes Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Renton, and Tukwila. The current radio system is nearly twenty years old and will soon be unsupported by the supplier of the system’s equipment, software and repairs.
The four agencies have agreed to consolidate management of the emergency radio system into one agency now known as the Puget Sound Emergency Radio Network (PSERN). The network would be used by first responders in all 39 cities and unincorporated King County.
During the public hearing, City Manager Kurt Triplett explained that ballot measure was negotiated among the PSERN agencies and “the measure would spend $249 million to replace the current radios, add additional towers, and increase the effectiveness of the radio system to 97 percent throughout King County, in rural and urban areas.”
The property tax increase for a median valued home of $435,000 in Kirkland would be $30.45 per year, or $2.54 per month.
In early 2015, the Kirkland City Council adopted Resolution R-5099 that authorized the City Manager to sign a Memorandum of Agreement regarding the governance of PSERN, voting rights, and payment of user fees during implementation.