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Election easily overlooked

Many Jackson County residents were probably surprised to receive a ballot in the mail for today’s election. This is an off year for Oregon’s election calendar, and there is only one item on the ballot. It’s not very exciting, but it’s important.

Voters are being asked to approve a $28 million property tax levy for new radio equipment for the county

911 emergency dispatch center. The request would cost the owner of a home assessed at $300,000 $27 a year, or $2.25 a month.

Some residents have asked why Jackson County doesn’t use its reserve funds. If the county can offer $66 million toward a new jail, why not spend it on radio equipment first, they ask.

Because the center serves two dozen fire and police departments, Southern Oregon University, the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Crater Lake National Park. Those entities contribute more than 80% of the operating costs. It would hardly be fair for the county to pay for the entire upgrade by itself.

The upgrade would replace outdated, failure-prone equipment

Some voters will be unconvinced and vote no. That’s their right. What’s important is for everyone to cast a ballot.

It’s too late to mail your ballot, which must be received in the Elections Department by 8 tonight. Postmarks do not count. So if you didn’t mail yours in, take it to the drop box at the Ashland library, the county Elections Department at 1101 W. Main St. in Medford.