This August, voters from Chelan and Douglas counties will vote whether to renew a sales tax that benefits RiverCom, the region’s emergency call dispatch service.

We at the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce believe approving this tax benefits us all by protecting an essential part of our Valley.

The chamber members and staff believe we live in a beautiful, yet isolated area. Having a consistent and reliable emergency communication system is crucial for our citizens and public safety organizations that remain a cornerstone of both urban and rural communities.

Although only 15 years old, RiverCom plays that crucial role in our lives, managing to retain a remarkable level of service. Voting yes will ensure that level of service continues.

While 15 years may not seem old for equipment, RiverCom’s technology is in use all day, every day. In 2018 alone, RiverCom responded to almost 100,000 calls, including 49,730 9-1-1 calls.

This Valley cannot afford to have an essential service like RiverCom become obsolete, and that’s where this tax comes in.

This sales tax is not new, it’s a permanent renewal of the existing tax, which asks for one cent per every $10 of selling price or value. That tax lasts until this year and brings $3 million per year to RiverCom, or 44 percent of its annual budget. The efficient way in which RiverCom has handled its business shows us it is a good steward of taxpayers money.

A Yes vote gives RiverCom a steady source of revenue for not one cent more than what taxpayers now pay. A No vote forces local fire and police departments in both counties to raise $3 million each year.

As the Valley’s area and population continue growing, those seeking to attract families and business to the region use a solid public safety communications system as a recruiting tool. That’s how RiverCom helps foster economic growth, and enhance our region’s competitiveness in all its industries, including tourism.

Moreover, in days when the sun shines and the population swells, people expect a safety network in place when their plans go sour. RiverCom is what connects people to that network during these emergencies.

When the federal government comes calling and requires that all emergency dispatch services switch from analog to digital, entities like RiverCom must have money to do it. Same when RiverCom chooses to unveil a 9-1-1-by-text service, already provided by Rivercom’s Grant County counterpart.

Detractors say many other needs could receive help if we aim this sales tax revenue elsewhere. It is incorrect to portray this as an either-or. This vote does not entitle RiverCom to new money that could instead serve mental health or housing shortages. This is the same money that RiverCom already gets, made permanent.

In 2009, more than 60 percent of the voters on both counties approved this measure. RiverCom is one of two emergency call services in the state that haven’t yet eliminated sunset clauses from their ballot measures, so this request for permanent funds is a first for them.

With the Valley growing and population rising, a show of support similar to 2009 becomes essential. Please take time to learn more about this measure, at rivercom911.org, and talk to your friends about supporting it.

We count on RiverCom every day. Now RiverCom counts on you. Vote yes.