Emergency tech upgrade on the JACO ballot

JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. – Jackson County is just one week away from a unique election day, where residents have only one item to vote on.

It’s a bond measure on whether or not to upgrade emergency communication technology, some of which is three decades old. The idea is to replace emergency communication systems across the county from analog to digital.

“We need to upgrade from essentially old, 30 year old radio equipment to the new digital age,” Mike Moran, former Talent Police Chief and former ECSO board member, said.

The organization looking for the funding, Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon or ECSO, is a separate government agency that works with both the county and multiple cities. If the upgrades to dispatch are approved, it would cost roughly 28 million dollars.

“Similar to your cell phone that used to be analog and now all cell phones are digital or the television stations that were analog and now they’re digital. It’s the same type of thing, so our analog equipment is outdated,” Margie Moulin, Director of ECSO, said.

Moulin says the manufacturer of their analog equipment no longer makes parts to fix the technology.

“If the equipment fails, will we be able to get parts quickly, so we can get it back up and running quickly?” Moulin said.

“If we don’t upgrade, there’s just gonna be a complete failure of the system,” Moran said.

Moran says the technology is vital to public safety.

“We need the hardware, the infrastructure. We need radios. We need sites where our radio frequencies can bounce off of,” Moran said.

However, the upgrades come at a cost. The county estimates the $28 million bond measure would cost property owners about nine dollars per every one $100,000 of assessed value per year. For a $300,000 house, that’s $27 a year.

Though you still have time to mail in your ballot, the last day to turn it in to a drop box is next Tuesday, election night. For a list of ballot drop box locations, visit the Jackson County website: https://jacksoncountyor.org/clerk/Elections/Upcoming-Current-Elections/Ballot-Drop-Box

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