12/15/13 — Commissioners to eye radio issue

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Commissioners to eye radio issue

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 15, 2013 1:50 AM

Repairing the county's troubled $10 million communications system will be back before Wayne County commissioners when they meet Tuesday morning at the Peggy M. Seegars Senior Center.

The session will begin with an agenda briefing at 8 a.m. followed by the meeting at 9 a.m.

Services on Aging Director Eryn McAuliffe and senior citizens at the center invited commissioners to meet there.

Ms. McAuliffe also is scheduled to make a presentation on Services on Aging programs.

Also on tap for the meeting is a presentation on the commissioners' responsibilities and legal requirements where public schools are concerned.

Kara Millonzie, of the UNC School of Government, will make the presentation. The workshop is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

Information on the county's $3 million contract to correct problems with its $10 million radio system will be provided by County Attorney Borden Parker.

Parker assured commissioners when they approved the contract in October that he would scrutinize it before recommending that it be signed.

The contract, that also includes a performance bond, is with Cary-based Radio Communications Co.

The county plans to use money from three different restricted funds to pay for the work: cable TV franchise, $2,262,548.32; capital reserves, $326,179.68; and radio fund, $472,353, for a total of $3,001,081.

A primary concern about the existing system is that it fails to provide adequate coverage under the 95/95 concept. That means that a system will cover 95 percent of the county 95 percent of the time.

The county approved borrowing $9.7 million in September 2008 for a new digital system designed to replace the then-nearly 40-year-old analog system. The federal government mandated the switch to digital systems.

The original project included two new towers and portable and mobile radios for all of the fire, law enforcement and rescue agencies in the county, including municipalities.

Radio Communications Co. officials have recommended building a new tower east of Goldsboro and to rent space for county radio equipment on a U.S. Cellular tower west of Goldsboro.

That should resolve the coverage issues, Radio Communications Co. officials said.

Also needed are software and firmware updates to the existing system.

The county budgeted for those updates in the past, but Communications International, the company that built the original system, did not do the work because the county had not accepted the system.

About $500,000 of the $3 million will be for those updates, which should have been performed already, county officials said.

Under the plan, the county would continue to use the infrastructure put in place by Communications International.

In other business Tuesday, the Wayne County Planning Board is recommending that commissioners approve a preliminary plat for a 74-lot subdivision.

The subdivision would be located on the east side of Charlie Braswell Road, just north of Rosewood Road. J&N Developers is the owner/developer.

The Planning Board also has recommended that 1.848 acres in Dudley be rezoned from Residential-Agriculture 20 to Community shopping. The rezoning request was made by C4 Development LLC.

The lot is owned by Edythe O. and Arnold W. Blanton and located at 3865 U.S. 117 Alt. South.

According to the agenda, the company plans to build an 8,320-square-foot retail store.

Commissioners must hold a public hearing before acting on the rezoning. County Manager Lee Smith is recommending that the board schedule the hearing for Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 9:15 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room on the fourth floor of the county courthouse annex.

Commissioners will review the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners' federal legislative goals for 2014.

According to the agenda, commissioners and county department managers have been asked to look at the goals and submit suggestions and/or additional items.

Smith is recommending the item be briefly discussed Tuesday and a fuller discussion held at the board's Jan. 7 session. The board's comments and suggestions are due back to the Association by Jan. 10.

Two items related to the National Association of Counties are on the agenda.

Sue Guy, the county's human services director, will update the board on the Association's prescription drug card program for residents. She also will talk about two other Association programs, including dental, for commissioners to consider.

A promotion video on the Association's services will be presented.

Also on the agenda:

* The board will consider a request from the city of Goldsboro for approval of farm leases for property jointly owned by the city and county.

* The consent agenda includes applications for homestead, present use value and property tax exemptions.

* Cooperative Extension Agent Christine Smith will present a program on GOWAYNEGO, county health challenges and plans to encourage participation from the county and commissioners.