Emergency Communication Funding Decision: Dickinson County at the Crossroads

By Jonathan Cramer

Dickinson County voters will decide on November 7 whether to approve a 0.25% sales tax increase to fund a new emergency communication system for first responders. If passed, the tax increase will become effective on April 1 and remain in place for five years, with the option to revisit the issue in the future.

Among 105 counties in Kansas, Dickinson County is one of just four lacking the 800 MHz system, which has become important as the existing analog system nears the end of its usefulness. This situation has resulted in serious communication problems, including dead zones and weak signals that pose risks to responders and the community. The 800 MHz system enables effective communication among first responders from various jurisdictions, promoting safety and coordination.

The total cost of implementing the new system is nearly $3 million, with two towers, mobile and portable radios, and five years of maintenance. County officials and first responders view the sales tax as the most equitable means to secure the required funding, especially after an earlier grant application was denied due to limited state resources.

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