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Augusta Commission to consider cameras, $12.2 million upgrade of public radio system

Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 6:41 PM
Last updated 8:52 PM
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A multimillion-dollar public safety item with an uncertain funding source needs approval Tuesday by the Augusta Commission to move forward.

The $12.2 million upgrade of Richmond County’s public safety radio system and the installation of security cameras downtown was proposed last week by a team from Motorola, the city’s current provider, with support from Sheriff Richard Roundtree and Fire Chief Chris James.

Upgrading the decades-old system would provide better radio coverage, video capability and room for expansion, as well as the opportunity for agencies throughout the area to buy onto the system, officials said.

After the Motorola presentation, some commissioners questioned whether the radio upgrades should be put out for bids, and how to pay for them.

“Maybe we can get what we think we need much cheaper. The only way we can find out is by putting it out for bids,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said Monday.

“I’m not against anything that’s going to benefit our policemen and firemen, but where are we getting $10 million?” Commissioner Bill Fennoy asked.

While revenues may be available as other agencies join the system, its annual maintenance charges will be higher than the city presently pays, officials said.

City Administrator Fred Russell said it was unclear if the upgrades were a sole-source item not subject to the bid process.

“The question would be, would it be sole source so it would be compatible with our current system?” Russell said. “How much extra do you pay for compatibility, if any?”

Options to pay for the project include raising property taxes, Russell said, or placing the item on an upcoming SPLOST referendum for voter approval. The city will begin formulating a list of projects to fund using a 1 percent special, local-option sales tax later this month, he said.

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SRD
475
Points
SRD 09/30/13 - 06:57 pm
8
0
1 more cent

Does anyone actually know how many 1 cent tax increases have occurred in Richmond County within the last 5 years? I'm just wondering because every time the city wants to spend money it doesn't have it considers another 1 cent tax increase as far as I can remember. 1 more cent can add up! Also, it seems that at least 1 department within the city needs something new that requires spending on monthly. What happened to projecting needs in the future and budgeting in advance? Let's see, you know that you will need new city sweepers in five years and they will cost $50K, so why don't you start putting aside $10k/year in the budget til they have the money to pay for it. This doesn't take rocket science. Perhaps we need to replace commissioners with accountants and financial planners since all they seem to look at are issues regarding money and none of them seem to have a clue as to how to budget.

GnipGnop
12835
Points
GnipGnop 09/30/13 - 07:11 pm
7
0
Raise property taxes?

This is why I rant against Augusta Politics...their answer to everything...raise taxes!!

nocnoc
53968
Points
nocnoc 09/30/13 - 08:05 pm
5
1
Whatever they decide

But Why Motorola again?
There are other communication providers besides them.
Communication companies with better coverage, Better durability, better encryption, smaller and better all around.

I would hope the commission does not rubber stamp ANY RCSO or ARC radio provider, without MAKING THEM COMPETE for the business.

Look into vendors like HARRIS, that has a Major demo planned Oct 24 @ Myrtle Beach SC

Cell phones which run circles around a police radio for about 5 percent of the cost. (Disaster issues to work around)

Icomm & Raytheon's 2 way radio systems and other which cost less.

or even wait until march and attend
International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE) in Las Vegas,
http://www.iwceexpo.com/iwce2014/public/Content.aspx?ID=1047157

OR
consider A conversion to a 700 MHz public safety radio system.
Warning Motorol hosed a install up in NJ and it looks like $million$ more will be required to fix it. Note: Federal Communication Commission auctioned off part of the 500 MHz radio spectrum to digital TV stations, public safety radio channels on the same frequency started to experience digital television interference. HINT: Avoid 500 mhz.

OR

Seek out some Subject Matter Experts At Fort Gordon.
after all it is the Home of the US Army Signal Corps.

countyman
22306
Points
countyman 09/30/13 - 08:03 pm
2
5
sales tax

SRD... Splost funds are used in every county of the state, and TSplost is for the entire Augusta region(multiple counties in Georgia)....

Sweet son
12166
Points
Sweet son 09/30/13 - 08:10 pm
4
1
The sheriff and fire chief and it seems the commission have gone

crazy!!!!! What is wrong with the communications that they have? It is not decades; plural old and it serves the purpose! With all radio communications and even cell phone service they all have dead spots and that is just a problem with the beast and it will not be fixed with a 12 million dollars fix that won't work!

Worse than the fix is that they will still not even be able to communicate with other agencies in the area! Dumb! Dumb! Dumb!

I own a home in Richmond County and as soon as I can work it out it will be on the market for someone else to pay for 'nice to haves' that won't even work!

It is sickening! And if they vote to give Wheeler over 2 million for his project that has proven nothing I will be equally as mad!

Come on Smith, Smith, Guilfoyle and others stop this runaway train! But before you do, put Russell on that train!

dichotomy
39305
Points
dichotomy 09/30/13 - 09:51 pm
9
0
Fred...Fred...Fred...."we can

Fred...Fred...Fred...."we can raise taxes or we can put it on a SPLOST".

Have you EVER had any other answer to a problem Fred?????

NO Fred. You can start living within WHAT YOU ALREADY GET and QUIT WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY GIVE YOU. These are the kinds of things that are SUPPOSED TO ALREADY BE IN THE ANNUAL BUDGET.......maintenance and replacement.

Try this sometime Fred......"We will just have to cut spending somewhere else to pay for this."

Maybe you can declare our radio system a slum and the state will give you money to buy a new system.

For $12.2 million dollars we should get a radio in every citizen's car in Richmond County. Who is getting the kickback from this contract? Who is Motorola wining and dining?

countyman
22306
Points
countyman 09/30/13 - 11:54 pm
2
9
Facts

I find it very interesting the same few people who never have anything positive to say in relation to Augusta. They all swear the area they live in is much better, but then claim to own property in Richmond County.

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem has attracted $6 million in private investment, national/statewide recognition, new homeowners/families, helped lower the crime rate in the area, etc.

What has the exhibition hall in Grovetown done? The entire project is around $7-$10 million. The only benefit so far is renting space to the YMCA for ten years. Compared to the LW initiative bringing in $6 million private funds, new homeowners(tax base), and the money came from local tourist.

The LW/Bethlehem construction has almost been able to attract more in private funds than the tax payers of Columbia County spent to build the exhibition hall.

Riverman1
99360
Points
Riverman1 10/01/13 - 02:30 am
7
0
The Right Way to Do Things

I wasn't going to bring up the contrast with Columbia County, but since CMan brought it up, let's look at their Exhibition Center. It will be opening this month for booking events. The kitchen was just completed. An immediate and constant benefit is the YMCA renting a portion of the building for a state of the art fitness facility. The building costs $7.2 million and the Y has a 5 year sliding scale rental contract that will be paying the county $1 million a year at the end of the 5 years as their membership increases. There's no reason to believe they will leave at the end of the 5 years. Besides providing a fitness center for residents and visitors the Y will pay for the building in the coming years. For coming events we'll have to see what rental fees are brought in.

Riverman1
99360
Points
Riverman1 10/01/13 - 03:29 am
8
1
Spend $8 Million to Get $6

CMan said, “Compared to the LW initiative bringing in $6 million private funds, new homeowners(tax base), and the money came from local tourist.”

I’ll point out something MOST of us know. A city cannot exist for long when it is spending $8 million to bring in $6 million, but realize it's not even BRINGING IN anything near $6 million to government

Because $6 million is being spent there it doesn't mean it's going into the pocket of city government. Assuming it is all spent on houses or apartments that will bring in only about $60 thousand a year in taxes. This is being generous and not accounting for tax breaks which are assuredly part of the investments down there.

Then there's the question of whether any further private investment will occur? There's no guarantee and it certainly hasn't lived up to the 10 to 1 investment we were told was occurring. It's time for local government to pull out of this boondoggle. If the area survives great. If it doesn't it's the market telling us something.

Bulldog
1354
Points
Bulldog 10/01/13 - 06:19 am
6
0
Amazing

What I find amazing is the lack of management skills demonstrated by the Commissioner and Fred Russell. I cannot believe that a 12 million dollar project is proposed with no more background research than has obviously been done.... If I had ever done something like this, our company's management committee would have laughed me out of the room... This should have been worked on in committee before bringing it to the entire commission...

Little Lamb
50764
Points
Little Lamb 10/01/13 - 06:42 am
3
0
Unprepared

Bulldog is correct. A commission meeting is no place to hammer out such details. The commission needs to send Roundtree back to bring them a proposal that includes solutions, that includes answers — not more questions. Roundtree needs to answer the question as to where the money comes from.

And whoever says that a $12 million proposal needs to be "sole sourced" needs to be given a one-month pay suspension. This new proposal needs to be put out for bid.

seenitB4
103731
Points
seenitB4 10/01/13 - 06:57 am
3
0
Vote some cpas in there

You need some finance folks on your commish....you have a bunch rowing the boat without any oars....dump em!

Little Lamb
50764
Points
Little Lamb 10/01/13 - 07:14 am
1
0
Buy In

If you look up at the top left under "Related Stories" you can see that Ms. McCord has provided a link that shows that Columbia County has already done the heavy lifting and has installed a hoopty digital police radio system in 2012. Why not have Richmond County Sheriff Department "buy in" to Columbia County's system instead of going it alone and trying to get others to "buy in" to Roundtree's thing?

raul
6113
Points
raul 10/01/13 - 07:28 am
2
1
I like nocnoc recommendation

I like nocnoc recommendation on the radios: Check with the SMEs at Fort Gordon. Also, check with other cities/counties for "best practices". What is working for them? But the first question that should be asked is: Is a new communications system absolutely necessary or just nice to have? And Fred needs to come up with some new thoughts. Raise property taxes or a new Splost must be sounding pretty old to the RC taxpayers (those that are left).

I just read LL's comment. That's what I talking about.

seenitB4
103731
Points
seenitB4 10/01/13 - 07:39 am
3
0
Splost

I'm beginning to hate that word.

countyman
22306
Points
countyman 10/01/13 - 10:28 am
1
3
Fact

The LWB development has ALREADY received $6 million in private funds. This is MUCH better compared to waiting five years just to collect $5 million.

How is the exhibition hall attracting $5 million over five years better than LWB attracting $6 million in around three?

The Laney Walker development will attract more than $5 million over the next five years, and you can look at the current $6 million for proof.

There's also new homeowners living in the area, and nobody can't spin that good news.. New homeowners equal additional retail, companies, tax base(roads, schools, law enforcement, etc), lower crime, etc.

The big difference is the Laney Walker development is coming from the hotel tax, and the exhibition hall is tax payer money.

The Columbia County government didn't even let you guys vote, and still took your $7.5 million.

A county cannot survive for long spending almost $8 million, and only receiving $5 million from the YMCA over the next five years...

Riverman1
99360
Points
Riverman1 10/01/13 - 10:37 am
4
1
Back to Hotel Tax Not Being Taxpayer Money

Oh, so we are back to the hotel tax not being county money? Strange reasoning. The Chronicle reporter even told you before the point is its county money. Realize the hotel tax was previously spent for something that goes lacking from that funding now.

As far as the Columbia County Exhibition Center they have a concrete plan to more than pay for it. A million dollars a year will do it pretty fast, not even counting the rental fees. In contrast the TEE is actually running up more costs as times goes on it appears. It will never be paid for. By the way, the Exhibition Center just opened for business this month. It appears the large Southeastern Gun Show will be held there in two weeks. They're off to a good start. Y'all come out. It's a nice safe area.

countyman
22306
Points
countyman 10/01/13 - 11:18 am
1
3
Facts

"The commission in 2008 agreed to dedicate $750,000 in hotel room fees annually for 50 years..." But I'm not sure why we should disregard how it is spent just because it's paid by out-of-towners.''

Where do you see anything in the quote from the Chronicle reporter saying it's county money?

How can you spin the facts? Nobody in their right mind can admit the exhibition hall attracting $5 million by 2018 is better compared to LWB attracting $6 million in three years. The new homeowners aren't even being counted into the equation, but they bring additional tax base into the county.

The developers behind the Holiday Inn Express, 901 Broad, etc have all mentioned the TEE Center.

The Holiday Inn Express by itself is around $6-$8 million in private investment. I'm not even counting the future hotel near the common, or the revenue generated through hotels/restaurants/gas stations/retail stores.

The local media reported the exhibition hall opened for business in August 2013..

The fact still remains the people in Richmond County voted for the TEE center, and you guys didn't even get a chance to vote for the exhibition hall.

Riverman1
99360
Points
Riverman1 10/01/13 - 12:03 pm
3
1
Susan McCord wrote on 9/24,

Susan McCord wrote on 9/24, “Countyman, I wrote
"The commission in 2008 agreed to dedicate $750,000 in hotel room fees annually for 50 years..." But I'm not sure why we should disregard how it is spent just because it's paid by out-of-towners.”

Of course she’s right. It’s county money and not less so because it came from the hotel tax. As far as the difference in Columbia County’s plan and the TEE or for that matter Laney Walker, Columbia County will actually generate enough money being paid directly to it to pay for their building. The TEE and the L-W project won’t be paid for in our lifetime.

GnipGnop
12835
Points
GnipGnop 10/02/13 - 07:39 pm
1
0
FACTS!! I can prove I own property in ARC and have for 25 years

Can you do the same? Put your money where your mouth is!

GnipGnop
12835
Points
GnipGnop 10/01/13 - 07:12 pm
2
0
it's not county money

It is TAX PAYER money! Wasn't there something about them collecting hotel tax and then not using the money on what it was collected for?

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