Letters to the Editor

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911: Are taxpayers being scammed?

Letter by A. Eugene (Gene) Casey, Ashford on Oct. 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm with 14 Comments »
October 25, 2011 9:34 am

As a retired volunteer fire fighter and EMT, I definitely believe in the 911 system, but I don’t support the new 911 tax. Why? Because I think we are being scammed!

This “just one tenth of a percent” sales and use tax joins all the other “just one tenth of a percent” taxes,  and would be in addition to the Washington state 911 tax and the Pierce County 911 surcharge we already pay on our home telephone and cell phone bills.

The voters pamphlet states that the proposed tax is only for the 911 upgrade, but how hard would that be to change by a quiet vote of the Pierce County Council once the 911 system is paid for?

Radio systems are expensive. It can easily cost $2,500 for an up-to-date hand held radio. The new system will cost millions to upgrade, but we do not need an open ended, endless tax to pay for it. Once in place, it will never be repealed.

The voters have repeatedly said, “no new taxes.”  It is time to say “No!” again.

Leave a comment Comments → 14
  1. There may be a reason for not having a sunset clause for the proposed tax. It would be nice to know about that.
    The opposition also needs to have a better argument than no new taxes. There are legitimate causes for tax increases and it seems to me that an excellent 911 system is one of them.
    I will vote yes and I will urge all my friends to vote yes too.

  2. PumainTacoma says:

    The bigger public corruption scam is the Grace of Mercy fiasco a Tacoma non-profit which is now being charged with a felony by King County Prosecutors!!!

    3 charged with bilking $250,000 in Seattle schools scandal
    “The charges added a criminal element to the school-district scandal that first emerged in February, when a state audit questioned about $1.8 million in contracts awarded through the Regional Small Business Development Program.

    Johnson’s nonprofit, Grace of Mercy, was singled out in the audit.

    The small-business program, which was shut down by the district in fall 2010, began several years ago, primarily to help minority- and women-owned companies learn to bid for school-district construction projects.”


  3. Pierce County council has openly discussed that they think this tax will generate up to 600 million dollars.

    Publico, Listen to the July 26th council meeting and you will hear several very legitimate reasons to question this tax. They openly discuss how money will be leaked to the general fund and how that money can be used for projects like streets and the prosecutors office. They declined an ammendment that said 911 funds would only be used for 911 because they didn’t want limitations placed on the money.

    They had an opportunity to develop a better 911 system and they did not. I will absolutely vote no until they can present a plan that budgets appropriately and actually makes 911 more efficient.

    The agencies involved admit they have the money to upgrade the radios. Then why are they asking taxpayers to fund this?

  4. You count on my no vote.

  5. fatecreatr says:

    Politico, and all other supporters,

    There are many more reasons than this just being a new tax. It can be hard to list out, or even choose from among all the reasons this plan is a terrible idea in 250 words. There is a lot more information available out there but you can start at http://www.rejectprop1.com.

    Another thing to consider is that even if this fails (fingers crossed), they have admitted to already located funds and contracted with Motorola to perform the upgrade. The 2 major differences between a yes and no vote are an increase in tax, and all local dispatch centers closing down with control going to Pierce County. (Pierce County by the way are the ones responsible for any issues the current system has as they designed, implemented, and decided not to upgrade it.)

    Do you want to hand $500 million and full authority to the same group of people who botched the last one and for a job that actually costs $20-30 million?

    This is not a safety issue. It’s a money issue. This plan was presented to the local cities by Pierce County as a way to free up extra money in the General fund to be used for anything. The finances are truly staggering. In the current economy this tax would generate about $12 million a year, which frees up the $7 million a year we are already taxed for 911. All that money you are paying now gets to be used for something else. You approved the previous tax increases for safety, and they use it for art projects, lawsuits, fancy parties… ANYTHING they want. All because we would be writing them this new huge check.

    I could keep going all day on this….

    Have you looked to see who contributed the $66,000 they have for the “For” campaign? $20k from a lawyer Jack Connelly in Tacoma (not sure what’s going on there), $31k from Fire and Police unions, $5k from Motorola (who gets the contract), another $6k from garbage companies (???) and then a series of smaller donations from individuals with more money then sense. Other than the lawyer, the huge donations are all from those who stand to directly gain financially.

    Look at the “endorsement” list on their site. It’s another group of self serving opportunists. Who in their right mind would not vote “yes” to their own raise?

    Do we deserve to be safe? Yes.

    Do our Police and Fire personnel deserve the best equipment we can provide? Yes.

    Do they deserve to charge us $500 million for a $20 million upgrade?


    Please read up on both sides before making a decision, and don’t fall for the hype and scare tactics.

  6. fatecreatr says:

    Oops, Publico, sorry for naming you incorrectly.

  7. puyallupmutt says:

    The public have already wised up to Teachers. The old understanding that they had student’s interests at heart has now been exposed as a scam.

    Now, the true impact of First Responders pay and pensions on State, County and City budgets has been crippling.

    So, for First Responders to be asking the over taxed public to pay for new “toys” at this time is obscene. Others in this economy are having to do with what they have with regard to tools and facilities as capital improvements are just not a high priority at this time (except for Puyallup of course where “tax and spend” is our city motto).

  8. I wont support it. For one reason, and the same reason I wont support anyone or anything else that is pushed this way….This morning I drove through a busy intersection with supporters waving stupid signs distracting traffic to pander an extra vote. Just think….if they weren’t out there begging for votes, distracting traffic, and a potential accident did not occur because of their distraction…then 911 wouldn’t have to be called would it.

    Between ridiculous street corner sign wavers, and the hundreds of orchards of political trash that seems to sprout up on our streets every year, I give NO support to anyone who uses such pushy, in your face tactics to get support.

  9. igotdabombfool says:

    Dcr628 – You do understand that there are just as many NO supporters doing the same thing. So will you not vote at all on that particular section of the ballot?

  10. chhannon says:

    If the situation with radios is poor, then Fire Department leaders should use existing funds as opposed to asking for more funding. I live in University Place where West Pierce provides fire protection. Did you know that West Pierce Fire is getting a new fire boat? They also have a Dive Team and a Rescue Swimmer Team. I guess all of these sexy special programs are more important than basic radios!

    Did you also know that the average salary and benefits for the local fire departments is about $125,000 per year. The problem here is clearly not a funding issue, it’s poor planning and a lack of leadership in the Fire community. Don’t ask taxpayers to provide more funding when they already have plenty! VOTE NO ON PROP 1.

  11. $125,000 for an AVERAGE salary??

    Ya know, just recently someone told me of his brother in law who is a fireman. He apparently has so much down time at “work” that he is able to successfully run his personal business from the firehouse! Sure, its an important job…but when they actually DO their job.

    How much down time do these guys have? My understanding is they spend the majority of their time sitting around the firehouse! Now we find they earn 125 grand?

  12. rainiersnow says:

    Publico when you go buy a new car do you pay above sticker price? When you go to the grocery store and your bill comes to $100.00 do you pay $5,000.00 for the same groceries? Why would you then give the county 500 million dollars for a 35 million dollar fix? It does not make sense. Of course if you were a person to benefit from this extra tax you will vote yes. If you are one of the people who will be receiving a HUGE payraise, or getting new sleeping quarters or not have to be accountable for the money in the check book and can spend it anyway you want, of course you will vote yes.
    IF you are a citizen who sees through this smoke screen, who realizes the county is trying to play on your heart by bringing up the death of the 4 Lakewood officers who by the way had the upgraded system, or the death of
    *The county deputy, who was killed that nightwas not killed because not because of the radio but because of decisions made vote NO. If you are a citizen who lives in the county and has called 911 only to have the phone ring unanswered, this new tax will NOT change that problem. If you have had a loved one with a medical issue and had to be transfered to the fire dept, this will NOT change this issue.


    If you are fed up with Pierce county trying to shove taxes down your throat, having the county council and the auditors office taking your last dime and not caring, stand up and say NO!

  13. LarryFine says:

    DCR, your friends brother in law is very likely violating an ethics rule as well as several Dept. policies.
    How much “down time” some F.F.s may or may not have is not relevent to the issue,and is a whole topic by itself.

    BTW, I am not for it either. Let’s try to avoid blaming the field personnel for an administrative decision.

  14. LarryFine says:

    Oh… and you may want to check that “average salary”… I’m thinking your a bit off unless your talking about Captains and above.

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