Originally created 03/09/99

Emergency upgrade to go to panel



AIKEN -- The nearly $1 million contract to upgrade Aiken County's emergency communications is now in writing.

The county council's Judicial and Public Safety Committee will review a proposed contract with Emergency Services Integrators at its meeting tonight and decide whether to send it to the entire council for approval.

The public safety committee has some remaining questions about the compatibility of existing volunteer fire equipment with what the company plans to install, but will likely give the contract its blessing, said Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie, committee chairwoman.

As the contract is now written, the cost of the upgrade to the county will be $973,441, plus applicable sales taxes and maintenance fees. The county will get new equipment and training.

The contract also includes five years of technical support and maintenance, costing $6,000 for the first year and $78,000 per year for the following four.

The total amount does not include a cost of $450 per radio for encryption capability and the cost of building new radio towers, should the county decide to do so.

Prior cost estimates from Emergency Services Integrators for the radio system upgrade were around $1.2 million. The council had only $366,000 to spend, and in February approved an increase in 911 fees by eight cents for the next five years to generate another $750,000.

If county projections indicate the eight-cent increase will generate a surplus over the cost of the radio upgrade, the 911 fee increase will be ended early, said County Administrator Bill Shepherd.

If the Judicial and Public Safety Committee approves the contract today, it will go before the full council March 16 for approval.

Plan contents

Aiken County is considering a $973,441 contract to update emergency communications. Under its terms, the county would receive:
Four new dispatcher work stations
A new records management system
Eight new transmitter antenna systems
More transmitting equipment for fire, EMS and criminal investigations units
Training for dispatchers on the new equipment

Todd Bauer covers Aiken County and business issues for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.