3rd emergency radio vote pushed
Nov. bond issue would be on ballot in Hamilton County

Wednesday, May 20, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

A new emergency radio system for Hamilton County has struck out twice at the ballot, but public safety officials said Tuesday they are determined to try again in November.

What it would cost

The four-year, 1.06-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $31 a year.

The 10-year 0.5-mill levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $14.60 annually.

A report submitted by the communications task force Tuesday recommends using property taxes to pay for a $60.2 million overhaul in one of two forms: a 1.06-mill levy for four years or a 0.5-mill levy for 10 years.

The system handles 911 service; receives calls from fire, police and emergency medical units; and dispatches those public safety departments.

The radio system studied would serve most jurisdictions in the county, including Cincinnati.

Departments now cannot easily communicate with one another. A firefighter inside a building often cannot talk by radio to fire officials outside.

Some officials blamed the overcrowded radio frequencies for the death of 17-month-old Joshua Wayne Poe in an Anderson Township trailer fire in 1996. Firefighters did not arrive on the scene until 14 minutes after the first 911 call.

County Commissioner Tom Neyer Jr. said he had just received the report and wants to study it before saying whether he would recommend the radio system for the November ballot.

The issue is an important one, he said: "There are frequencies to be preserved and some other technical issues, but most important is the quality of our safety services and the safety of those who provide them."

He said passage of a police computer levy earlier this month shows voters are willing to support law enforcement when the case is made clearly and persuasively.

The task force worked for a year to review new technologies and recommended an 800 megahertz system.

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