Letters to the Editor

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911: Pierce County’s padding the bill

Letter by Anders Bolang, Tacoma on Oct. 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm | 5 Comments »
October 31, 2011 2:17 pm

From the Pierce County voters’ pamphlet, one would think the 911 sales tax hike will be used only to upgrade radios. It is also about two new buildings and a lot of extra money.

The radios will cost $30 million, according to the County Council. The tax was estimated to produce $295 million, almost 10 times more. Why an extra $265 million?

The major cost is two new buildings – one for police dispatchers and one for fire/EMS. When I dig a little deeper, I find that there is a significant pay disparity between police and fire/EMS dispatchers, and no one is willing to renegotiate a single dispatch unit.

We already pay a tax for 911 services on our monthly phone bill. This tax hike is set up to create a revenue stream to support redundancy and inefficiency, perpetuated by two unions selfishly looking out for short-term gain.

LESA’s own performance auditor, Russ Russell, opposed having two buildings. His final report is on the LESA website. Russell says two dispatch centers “will not improve service levels to a significant degree and would not be cost-effective in terms of facilities, personnel and infrastructure.”

We need new radios, not new buildings. Come on, guys; Tacoma is a great city, and we have great services and pretty good infrastructure, and we citizens are willing to pay a fair price for those services. Don’t pad the bill.

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