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Voters pass Washington County sales tax increase for new emergency communications system

The .25% tax will fund a new communications system and facilities for firefighters, police and other emergency services within Washington County

WASHINGTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — Washington County voters have decided to pass a sales tax that will supply emergency responders with a new radio system.

A tax increase of one-quarter of one penny is what the Washington County Emergency Department proposed to voters in a way to fund new communication equipment.

It passed with 24,466 (64%) votes for and 13,785 (36%) votes against.

RELATED: Washington County Emergency Services ask voters for funding

RELATED: Washington County Emergency Communication Towers In Need Of Upgrade

Currently, firefighters, police and other emergency services within Washington County use 15-year-old radios to communicate emergencies with one another. 

This equipment connects to towers located throughout the county and sometimes run into dead zones where connection to the towers is tough.

A new system would eliminate that problem. It's called the A-win system which stands for Arkansas wireless information system.

The new system will be a digital system similar to cell phones, making changing communication towers fast and easy for police, fire and emergency medical services. 

The Washington County Emergency Department says this proposal is written to strictly limit spending on communication equipment.

Washington County Emergency Manager John Luther says four tower sites and 13 radio dispatch consoles will be shared by the Washington County Sheriff's Office and EMS along with 1,750 radios throughout the county.