11/28/08 — Communication system gets OK from county

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Communication system gets OK from county

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 28, 2008 1:46 PM

Wayne County commissioners adopted a $10.8 million capital project ordinance this month, clearing the way for the county to proceed with plans to build a new communication system.

The plan, which has received the blessings of the Local Government Commission, includes up to $9.7 million in bank financing and the use of $1,125,713 from the county's general fund.

The county will borrow the $9.7 million from RBC bank at an interest rate of 3.88 percent over 10 years.

The project calls for the construction of two new towers at a cost of $960,000. One is to be built at Mount Olive and the other in the Grantham community.

The project also includes buildings to house the equipment, computers and other "back room equipment."

Another $1.044 million is included for engineering and architectural fees; $29,000 for special counsel fee and other legal costs; $9.458 million for equipment; and $294,192 for contingency.

The bulk of the work is expected to be under way by the spring.

The county will purchase between 1,500 to 1,600 portable radios.

That portion of the plan was criticized by Willie Ray Starling at a recent commissioners' meeting. Earlier this month, Starling lost a bid to unseat Commissioner Bud Gray.

"I wonder, with the taxes we pay to the fire departments, the new trucks I see at each, why are we using county tax money to buy radios in any case? If they need radios why not let them buy them?" Starling asked.

His question prompted Gray to ask County Manager Lee Smith to clarify who will get the radios.

Smith said the county would buy radios for all of the county's fire departments, law enforcement agencies and rescue squads.

The county could begin the purchase of tower-related equipment within the next 90 days.

Smith has said that a lot of the purchasing can be done on state contract by "piggybacking" the county's purchases on existing contracts to saving time and money.

The new system will replace one nearing a half-century in age.

The county considered the VIPER system in use by the state before settling on a high-frequency system. Smith has touted the system as putting the county "ahead of the curve" in making the transition to new digital technology that is being mandated by the federal government.