Supervisors approve comm upgrade

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved a communications system agreement with Motorla Solutions to upgrade the county’s communications.

The supervisors met in regular session to discuss the proposal with the public in attendance Jan. 23. The supervisors read from multiple letters of support from organizations including the Red Oak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, the Professional Firefighters Association, the Montgomery County Development Corporation, Southwestern Community College, the Emergency Management Commission, the First Christian Church, and the Stanton City Council.

The supervisors then voted on the proposal. Supervisor Mark Peterson thanked the emergency responders for their service and agreed there were communication problems and that something needed to be done, but on the fiscal side, he wasn’t sure they had enough information to make a sound financial decision.

“In the version of the proposal we have been given, we have had barely a month to consider it. This has not allowed enough time to properly look for and talk to consultants that specialize in proposals such as this. In the words of a former school board member, spending this kind of money without a consultant would be similar to building a school without an architect. I believe that while time is critical, spending a little more time to make sure we have the right proposal is time well spent,” Peterson said.

Peterson said he knew the discount was being cited as a reason for the board to act now, but said Page County had used a consultant and it had saved them money on the proposal. Also, a proposal was received from Motorola in November similar to the one up for vote; the discount from the prior proposal was up in May of 2018. Peterson asked the time be given back to receive the discount while making an expert study of the proposal.

Supervisor Steve Ratcliff said he had heard from Stanton Mayor Kirk Requist asking the Montgomery County EMA and Motorola revisit the site of the towers, and if they declined, he was in favor of a consultant. Ratcliff also felt the timeline was short.

“To spend this kind of money, we should have a consultant on board,” Ratcliff said.

Montgomery County Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Hamman addressed some of the issues raised, and said when it came to a consultant, one could be hired, but when other counties had hired a consultant, the Motorola system had been recommended.

“In my opinion, we’re already spending a lot of money. There’s no reason to spend money for a consultant when we know what we have to do. In my opinion, we don’t have any other options. There are no other platforms, and building our own system will be two to three times as much,” Hamman said.

Supervisor Donna Robinson said she had been contacted by members of her district who said they saw the need for the upgrade, and while they were unhappy with the amount of money required, they were convinced after the public meeting it was the right thing to vote for, and hoped the bond issue could be paid off faster than had originally been discussed.

“We have people who have looked at the towers, who have researched the system. I’m confident that the information we have been given is trustworthy, and I don’t see the need to spend additional dollars for a consultant to tell us what we know we need to do already,” Robinson said.

Supervisor Bryant Amos said he had heard many reasons to stall or cancel the proposal, and he could not agree with that.

“We know how bad the system is we’re working with today. I cannot in good conscience delay it any farther. I think more of our firefighters, police officers, and all of our first responders. They need this fixed as soon as possible. To delay it any farther, I think is wrong,” commented Amos.

Supervisor’s Chairman Mike Olson said he had contacted Mills County officials, and the City of Adel. Adel was already using the Motorola system, and was having similar communications issues with their own. Olson said the person he spoke to in Adel said the Motorola system was a godsend.

“They looked at three different systems, and there was no comparison between Motorola’s, and the others. He said he didn’t know if you could find anything that would cost any less than the Motorola proposal. I know the time frame has been condensed, but after talking with Adel representatives, and officials in Mills County, they assured me this proposal is rock solid. It’s expensive, but in this day and age, you get what you pay for,” Olson said.

The supervisors approved the Motorola proposal by a 3-2 vote, with Supervisors Mark Peterson and Steve Ratcliff voting no.

The supervisors then moved into a public hearing on the proposal to enter into a loan agreement to finance the communications upgrade. After hearing comments from the public, the supervisors agreed to 10-year repayment plan for their amortization scenario. The amortization rate was unanimously approved.

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