Ballot Measure 15-186

  • Who is ECSO
    • ECSO is a government agency formed under ORS 190, governed by a Board of Directors and a Council made up of representatives from all of the police/fire/medical agencies in Jackson County and Crater Lake National Park. ECSO is an independent government entity. It is not a PERS entity and is not part of any city, county, or special district.
  • Who does ECSO serve?
    • ECSO answers the 9-1-1 calls for all of Jackson County and Crater Lake National Park.   ECSO also dispatches public safety (Police, Fire, and EMS) throughout Jackson County and Crater Lake National Park.
  • Why is a new system being proposed?
    • Disparate systems – ECSO currently operates a series of disparate land mobile radio (LMR) systems that provide voice communications for police, fire, and emergency medical (EMS) agencies. This infrastructure includes multiple towers, buildings, and equipment at multiple sites in Jackson County. The current system was not designed to be a countywide or regional system, but has evolved into a countywide system. Over the years, this evolution has led to capacity, interoperability, and performance problems such as the ability to talk to dispatch and other units and the ability to hear radio traffic both in the field and in dispatch. Compliance with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Narrowband law in 2010 resulted in a reduction of coverage provided by the radio system. Coverage has been reduced due to the aging of the combined systems, with many approaching, or past, their end of life.
    • End of Life – The existing analog radio system components are approaching or beyond their end of life/end of support.
      • End of life means the equipment is considered no longer useful by the manufacturer or vendor and they would no longer offer support or work to sustain the equipment. This means replacement parts can be difficult to find, and they could not be repaired if an unsupported component or assembly fails. Technicians in the technical support industry are trained in digital technology. The existing radio system is an older analog one and the technical expertise to work on analog systems is no longer available.
      • In the last two years, ECSOs had to replace radio components in dispatch with parts and pieces from other dispatch centers who upgraded to new radio consoles; three times in the last two years technical support replaced failed radios on mountain top sites with spare parts housed in their shop. Increased system component failures have required technicians to search on-line auction sites and third-party vendors in efforts to obtain replacement parts or use or borrow parts from a neighboring public safety jurisdiction to maintain the system.
      • Interoperability – Interoperability is the ability of public safety responders to share public safety information via voice and data communications systems, on demand, in real time, when needed, and as authorized. Public safety communications can occur only if the communications paths (frequencies, equipment, and signaling) are compatible. The current radio system does not allow public safety responders to communicate with each other during wide scale emergencies, such as wild fires. ECSO responders communicate with multiple agencies daily regarding joint responses to fires and in-progress crimes, among other things.   On September 11, 2001 many public safety agencies were not able to communicate and exchange information. Nationwide, many agencies could not exchange information because they operated on disparate and incompatible hardware. Federal, State and local agencies saw the need to be able to communicate passed laws that require public safety agencies be able to communicate and share information. Presently, the current ECSO systems are not capable of interoperability which is inconsistent with State and Federal law.
      • Transition to digital technology – Whether it is smart phones, TVs, or public safety radios, the industry and the technology they invent and market has converted to digital. Digital technology allows public safety to obtain more information from more such as photos, videos, texts and other data streams. In order to meet nationally recognized Association of Public Safety Communication Officials’ interoperable standards for Public Safety Communications, equipment purchased today and in the future is and would be based upon digital technologies.
      • Population Growth – In 2000, the population of Jackson County was 181,273. This has grown to 219,270 in 2018. With this population growth over nearly 20 years, ECSO’s system now serves over 37,000 more people, many of whom reside in areas where there is limited or no radio coverage.
      • System Coverage –The age of the equipment and the lack of equipment does not provide sufficient signal strength for the terrain in Jackson County. Public Safety has trouble communicating due to gaps in coverage. Public safety agencies using portable (hand-held) radios are unable to communicate with each other or dispatch emergency responders to a response site. An assessment conducted by Federal Engineering, reported over half of field users stated the ability to understand any communication, indoors or outdoors, was of poor and unintelligible quality.
  • If the measure passes, what would the cost be to taxpayer?
    • The estimated cost using the preliminary conceptual design would be $28,000,000. If approved, the measure would authorize the County to issue general obligation bonds to upgrade and replace the emergency communications radio system not exceeding $28,000,000. The County estimates property owners would pay $.09 per $1,000 of assessed value per year.
  • What agencies does the current radio infrastructure communications system serve?
    • Medford Police Department
    • Jackson County Sheriff’s Department
    • Ashland Police Department
    • Central Point Police Department
    • Eagle Point Police Department
    • Jacksonville Police Department
    • Butte Falls Police Department
    • Phoenix Police Department
    • Rogue River Police Department
    • Talent Police Department
    • Medford Fire
    • Fire District #3
    • Fire District #5
    • Applegate Valley Fire District
    • Evans Valley Fire District #6
    • Lake Creek Rural Fire
    • Rogue River Rural Fire District #1
    • Jackson County Fire District #4
    • Rogue Valley Airport Fire
    • Prospect Fire
    • Jacksonville Fire
    • Butte Falls Fire
    • Greensprings Rural Fire District
    • Ashland Fire & Rescue
    • Southern Oregon University
    • United States Forest Service
    • Crater Lake National Park
    • Bureau of Land Management
    • Oregon Department of Forestry

If the measure passes, what projects would be undertaken?

    • The bond would pay for an entire P25 Phase 2, trunked, simulcast and redundant radio infrastructure. The equipment would consist of:
      • Microwave systems;
      • Digital radio system in dispatch;
      • Site improvements, ex: new towers, prefabricated shelters, generators, site renovations;
      • P25 radio system;
      • New FCC licenses;
      • Installation and implantation of the entire system;
      • Subscriber units (mobile and handheld) for all agencies served by ECSO.

If passed, the Bond would fund equipment and installation; no additional staffing or maintenance would be included in the bond.

  • If the measure passes, could the existing equipment be resold?
    • If the measure passes, ECSO would attempt to find buyers for the older equipment. If it were to find buyers, the proceeds would be used to offset the cost of new equipment.
  • Were other interoperability options considered?
    • Yes, other systems were considered, among them fiber optics, satellite phones, ham radios, cell phones and Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA), the system widely used in Europe but not in North America. The district proposed a bond measure for the propose system outlined above based on cost, stability and the ability to give priority to emergency service providers. Digital mobile Radio (DMR) developed as a European standard for digital radio to replace analog trunked technologies was also considered although it would not allow for interoperability.
  • Are there other agencies that have made an upgrade to digital, and how did they fund it?
    • Yes. See below for the details.

          Oregon

    • City of Portland – Bonds
    • Clackamas County – Bond
    • Washington County – Bond
    • Frontier (Gilliam/Sherman/Wheeler) – Operating Funds / Tax wind farm revenue
    • Lane County – Bond
    • Benton County – Bond
    • Linn County – Bond
    • TriMet – Bond
    • Rogue Valley Transit – Bond
    • Salem – TBD
    • ODOT / OSP – Legislature

          Washington State:

    • Washington State Patrol – Operating Funds
    • Pierce County – Bond
    • Pierce County Transit – Bond
    • Tacoma – Bond
    • King County – Bond
    • Port of Seattle – Bond
    • City of Seattle – Bond
    • City of Spokane – Bond
  • If the measure passes, what would be provided?
    • New/upgraded radio infrastructure would provide broader and sustained coverage for public safety responders (police/fire/EMS) and ECSO dispatch.
  • If the measure passes, what would be the impact on police/ fire?
    • All ECSO Member agencies would receive upgraded and/or new radios in vehicles, and portables.
  • If the measure passes, how many radio sites would there be?
    • There are currently 22 sites within the ECSO radio infrastructure. Additional potential sites have been identified and may be added to the proposed plan in the Shady Cove and Applegate areas to expand coverage
  • How many police/fire/EMS radios are there?
    • There are currently 1440 mobile (in vehicle) and portable (handheld) units being used by ECSO Member agencies with fire, EMS, and police. ECSO has 17 radio consoles inside of the dispatch center, for a current mobile/portable “radio count” of 1457 radios. The bond, if approved, would provide 1800 upgraded or new radios for public safety responders.
  • If the measure passes, who would maintain and manage the new system?
    • If the proposed radio project is completed, the new system would be managed and maintained by ECSO with radio maintenance contracts, as is done with the current system. Subscriber units (police, fire and EMS mobiles and portables) would be maintained by the agency using the units.
  • What would happen if the current system was continued to be used?
    • Equipment in the current radio infrastructure has reached end of life. Technical Supports has spent over 5 hours searching for replacement parts; the Gold Elite radio console system is no longer supported by Motorola and parts are no longer manufactured; technical support has sought out parts on eBay and from other dispatch centers who have replaced their consoles to digital systems. Continued use of the current system would increase the potential of an unfixable failure of the emergency communications radio system.
  • What process has ECSO used to evaluate the current system?
    • ECSO began work on the proposed project when a grant was obtained to have the Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (DHS/OEC) complete a radio system review in May 2014. From that study, a task force was appointed by the ECSO Board of Directors (BOD), completing a review of the report in 2015, after which the BOD moved forward with contracting a consultant to complete an assessment and preliminary conceptual design for the proposed radio infrastructure. A proposed conceptual design was completed in June 2017. ECSO then worked to identify funding options, including grants, prior to referring the proposed measure to the voters.
  • If the measure passes, what would a new system provide?
    • Public safety relies on voice communication to coordinate responses between dispatch from 9-1-1 and non-emergent calls, to medical, fire, and/or law enforcement responding units. A new system would provide expanded, sustained and intelligible communications to ECSO’s public safety agencies.
    • ECSO has researched the possibility of sharing a system with other systems in Jackson County, however they are either on a different radio spectrum (700, 800 MHz vs VHF) that would not provide coverage to all of Jackson County, or they additional upgrades to the system would be explored to provide complete coverage.
  • What would happen if the measure does not pass?
    • The cost of a new radio infrastructure would increase; ECSO subscriber agencies would be unable to fund a new system and the proposed projects would not be complete.
    • If parts fail, ECSO and technical support would look for opportunities to purchase parts and pieces from discarded equipment from other centers or over the internet and/or Ebay.
    • The additional tax assessment would not be made.

 

This information was reviewed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office for compliance with ORS 260.432