Madison County will have a new emergency radio system within the next four months.
After months of discussions, county commissioners approved a contract with Mobile Communication America (MCA) to install a new radio system, replacing an old system by another company that emergency workers say has been unreliable over the years, with dispatches not always received. The system includes three tower sites with complete coverage for emergency communications across the county.
County 911 director Brenan Baird said the new system will be much more reliable.
The county initially started project talks with plans to move the 911 office from its current location in an old brick house on Wagner Lane in Danielsville. But there’s not enough money in the sales tax funds allocated to 911 to cover both a radio upgrade and new facility. But Baird said the new radio system can be transferred to a new facility without much cost when there is funding for a new building.
The contract with MCA is for $956,000 and includes an annual maintenance contract for $51,000, which includes 24/7 technical support on the system infrastructure and software upgrades.
There are not enough sales tax funds to cover all of the needed radio purchases for county volunteer firemen and city police, but the commissioners agreed to pull the roughly $110,000 needed out of the county general funds to cover the cost of the radios so that those departments don’t have to foot the bill.
Commissioner Lee Allen said he’d rather see the commissioners cover that cost now than have fire departments purchase radios and be left unable to use all of their sales tax allocations on other projects they are planning. Other commissioners agreed with Allen.
Commissioner Derek Doster said he’d like to see all agencies that will use the radio system be included in the testing prior to implementation. The contract includes an audit of the system to make sure everything is functioning properly.