WENATCHEE — A RiverCom Dispatch proposal to extend its current sales tax is passing by a large margin in early Chelan and Douglas county vote counts.
The measure is currently passing in Chelan County with 85% of voters and 83% of Douglas County voters in favor of the Emergency Communication Systems and Facilities Tax in the Aug. 6 primary election ballot.
Chelan and Douglas county voters in 2009 approved the 0.1% sales tax for 10 years to help pay for those areas.
The tax expires at the end of the year and under RiverCom’s proposal, the tax would become permanent.
The systems and facilities tax wouldn't add or increase rates, but would instead maintain its current take from local sales taxes. Unlike the current tax, the renewed tax — if approved — wouldn’t expire.
The dispatch center runs on about $7.4 million a year from four sources: annual fees from local first-responder agencies; an excise tax; state grants; and the systems and facilities tax it's trying to renew.
The systems and facilities tax accounts for about $3.3 million, or 44% of RiverCom’s funding. It pulls 0.1% from sales and use taxes, or $1 for every $1,000 spent.
RiverCom projects it would receive $2.5 million to $4 million a year from the tax for the next five years.
Last year, RiverCom responded to nearly 50,000 emergency calls. The facilities tax is the only permanent revenue source to pay for many of its expenses.
More votes will be counted Friday and final results will be certified Aug. 20.