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New emergency radio agreement in place Cost for communications system not to exceed $6.75 million By John Speer CIP

March 7, 2019
Northern-Sun Print
It’s quite a a step, but necessary,” Tama County 1st District Supervisor Larry Vest said Monday as the board of supervisors entered into an agreement with RACOM of Marshalltown, a radio communications company, to essentially replace the county’s aged emergency communications system. “Our communications system is failing at an alarming rate,” Tama County Emergency Management and E911 Director Mindy Benson told the Board of Supervisors when she first brought the issue to them on October 29 of last year.”We’ve been putting this off for years and years and years,” she said then. Along with the contract supervisors approved, a $390,409 debt service levy for the 2019-20 fiscal year. It is the result of principal and interest payment on the emergency services communication equipment bonds will be due in that fiscal year requiring a provision to make payment. New or relocated towers and accompanying radio equipment could push the bill to as much as $6.75 million to pay for the upgrades, but supervisors have said they are aiming for a lower price tag. New antennas, towers and tower locations, along with both base and mobile radio equipment is included in the plan which could take up to two years to complete. Diane Richardson, RACOM business development manager, told supervisors on Monday a company meeting was planned for early as the next day with a full kick-off meeting expected within three weeks. She told The News-Herald a company project manager is expected to be named shortly. She said RACOM will have a detailed report to present within three to four months at which time bidding for equipment can actually begin. Supervisors on Monday chose 2nd District Supervisor Kendall Jordan as their primary representative in the project. The radio system move was recommended by the county E911 Board made up of representatives from cities and other neighboring city and county jurisdictions which provide emergency services for Tama County. While it has been generally recognized the radio system is in need of replacement some objections were voiced at a January public hearing. Questions about the lack of bidding on the project and the cost to taxpayers were voiced Benson has noted the service is mandated and does not require competitive bidding. The E911 Board and Benson have maintained the system is the only available which will meet the fire department and paging needs within the county. The Tama County communications system serves fire departments in Tama, Toledo, Montour, Chelsea, Vining, Elberon, Garwin, Clutier, Gladbrook, Lincoln, Traer and Dysart. Ambulance services in Tama, Toledo, Elberon, Garwin, Gladbrook, Traer and Dysart and 1st responder units in Montour, Clutier and on the Meskwaki Settlement are served as well as the Tama County Sheriff’s Office, Tama, Toledo, Dysart and Meskwaki Nation Tribal police departments. The plan includes purchase of new radios for all the departments involved.



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