Rogers County Commissioners started the new fiscal year Monday with the approval of a $400,000 purchase of radio equipment for the E911 Center.
As construction continues on the building, E911 Director Janet Hamilton has tried to equip the building with radio systems, furniture and other items.
Commissioners Mike Helm and Kirt Thacker gave Hamilton a push in that direction by approving a bid to purchase an 800-trunk radio system from Motorola.
This decision prompted a bit of controversy as the E911 Trust Authority board was in the midst of reviewing a less expensive system.
Commissioner Dan DeLozier did not support the purchase, asking the board for more time to review the options.
Steve Kumrow with Motorola spoke to the board about the system.
“We designed it upon the specifications that we were provided,” Kumrow said.
“I don’t feel good about giving you a product that does not connect to that network.”
The 800-trunk system has been described as a state-of-the-art system; however, is more expensive than other options considered by the E911 Trust Authority members.
The trust board started looking at the system the City of Claremore currently uses to save funding on the project.
“You said you would like to see the E911 Center be successful, define successful,” Thacker said. “Are you saying that this system would provide the ability to speak to all entities in the county?”
“In this particular design, they will use the radios they use today,” according to Kumrow.
The console will provide the resources to patch and connect the radios across the county, he said.
The entities will not be able to communicate with each other directly, dispatch would be required to facilitate communication.
The agencies that join the center would later be able to upgrade hand-held radios to provide direct communication with each other.
The overall expense to small departments and rural agencies has been the center of the debate for the past two years.
Several members of the trust authority have expressed their concern about the expense involved and the feasibility of getting everyone on the same system.
Additionally, the members have not been able to officially join the trust because Rogers County officials have yet to provide an anticipated cost of participation. The trust members are required to get approval from each entity’s board before legally participating in the E911 Center.
“I think with all this time crunch and the inactivity of the entities involved, we move forward,” Thacker said.
Northwest Rogers County Fire Chief David Puckett said, none of the entities have committed because Rogers County has not provided any numbers.
“Here is the deal. It has been two years,” Thacker said. “Either get with the program or get your own.”
Thacker said people only care that someone shows up in an emergency and called the entities “irresponsible” for not joining the center.
Helm and Thacker pushed the contract forward during the meeting, approving the measure in an effort to meet construction deadlines. The center is scheduled to open in October, according to Flintco representatives.
“What a short window,” Helm said.
“We cannot wait any longer to equip this building,” Hamilton said. “We need to move forward.”
A vendor needs five weeks for delivery of an item, she added.
“We have wasted time and we don’t have the time to waste,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton recommended the acceptance of the item.
“There are funds in the E911 budget,” she added.
Currently, the E911 account has approximately $900,000 in funding. The purchase, if paid in full, would use approximately half of the available revenue.
“There are a lot of needs,” Hamilton said.
The E911 funding will only be enough for some items, prompting Hamilton to request assistance.
“Is it possible for the county commissioners to pay for it, [the radios]?” Hamilton said. “The expense could be deferred if the board decides to lease-purchase the equipment, lowering the initial costs to the county.”
The radio system costs approximately $400,000. However, Motorola is offering a seven-year lease purchase with no payment for the first year.
Payments after that period will be approximately $64,000 each.
The board did not determine where the funding for the items will come from and could not specify exactly how much money was available from the courthouse bonds proceeds.
The bond proceeds were allocated for the construction and equipment of the E911 Center and Rogers County Courthouse.
The courthouse was completed for approximately $19 million, well below the anticipated budget.
The E911 Center and renovations of the Rogers County Jail are anticipated to be $2 million.
The board could not specify how much of the 2010, $23.5 million and 2011, $3.25 million courthouse/E911 center construction bonds remain to pay for equipment expenses.