ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers said Monday the county should pay the mobile-radio installation and programming charges for local agencies that will use the new county public-safety radio system.
The county is already providing the digital radios themselves to local fire departments, ambulance squads and other users without charge.
Now the County Board of Supervisors is preparing to seek bids to install and program the new VHF high-band radios in firetrucks, police cars, highway department trucks and ambulances countywide.
The expense would be paid by the county instead of the departments themselves, county leaders said.
“There are some departments out there that can’t afford to do it,” said Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), who chairs the County Public Safety Committee.
The estimated cost from one company, Wells Communications of Plattsburgh, was $700 for each radio installation, plus a $50-per-radio programming fee, but the county will now get bids from other vendors.
About 440 radios must be installed, and the county hopes that by bidding the work it will be less than the $330,000 total cost that individual departments and agencies would have had to share.
The old radios are analog and operate on incompatible VHF low-band frequencies that can’t be used when the new system goes online later this year.
The new system includes multiple tower sites to dispatch and link public-safety agencies in the county to the County 911 Center in Lewis. Construction is expected to get under way in the spring.
COVERING THE EXPENSE
Supervisor David Blades (R-Lewis) said the Lewis Volunteer Fire Department was unhappy with the $750-per-truck fee it would have had to pay to have the new radios installed.
Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said agencies could hire any installer they wish.
“Ticonderoga Fire Department hired their own installer. It would be the board’s option if they wish to cover the cost. I’m not opposed to it.”