ARTICLE: Radio District Gets Its Funding

East Oregonian   11/03/2010

Radio district gets its funding
By SAMANTHA TIPLER East Oregonian

A tax to fund the Umatilla Morrow Radio & Data District was given approval by a margin of about 1,000 votes Tuesday.

In Umatilla County, roughly 800 more voters supported the bond. The county reported 8,530 yes votes (52.5 percent) and 7,718 no votes (47.5 percent).

In Morrow County, the measure had about a 260-vote lead. Yes votes accounted for 1,536 (54.66 percent) and no votes accounted for 1,274 (45.34 percent).

“It’s a slim majority, but it is positive,” said Mike Roxbury, chairman of the Umatilla Morrow Radio & Data District board. “I think I can speak for the board and the public safety community in Umatilla and Morrow Counties, and say we appreciate voters for passing it.”

The bond is at a rate of 17 cents per $1,000 property valuation. It will fund upkeep of a radio system built and originally funded by the federal government through the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program.

Supporters have compared it to winning a Cadillac car and then having to pay for upkeep and insurance. It’s a great thing to have, but it does cost to keep it going.

Passing the bond now gives the board enough time to fund itself before the Umatilla Chemical Depot finishes its work and federal funds dry up.

Roxbury said the most recent end date for depot work he has heard is December 2011. The district will begin receiving tax dollars at the end of 2011.

Roxbury credited the success of the bond to simple communication.

“I think it was a little less confusing, and there was better advertising,” he said.

He and Shawn Halsey, administrator for the radio district, also visited local civic groups like Kiwanis, Lions Club and Altrusa. Once they explained the need to upkeep the system, most people agreed. Roxbury said it was just a matter of explaining it to people.

“Everybody we got to, and got a chance to explain it to, ended up agreeing it was a good idea,” Roxbury said.