ELIZABETHTOWN — The installation of digital mobile radios for the new Essex County public-safety radio network has stalled in the interest of fairness.
The radios will be put in police, fire, emergency-medical and highway-department vehicles throughout the county, but one of two vendors that submitted prices will get job is still unknown.
Because the County Board of Supervisors allowed Wells Communications President Edward Kehn Jr. to address the board at a recent Ways and Means meeting, some supervisors said the other bidder, Capital Digitronics, should be given an equal opportunity to state its case.
That presentation is scheduled for the board’s regular meeting at 10 a.m. Monday.
In the meantime, the contract award has been tabled by the Board of Supervisors.
The high bid is from Wells Communications of Plattsburgh, a Motorola dealer, at $120,750, while the low bid comes from Capital Digitronics of Albany for $94,692.
Capital is not a Motorola dealer, and the radio manufacturer, Motorola Solutions, has told the county in writing that it would not honor the equipment warranties if Capital installs the radios.
The 400 radios the county purchased for the new radio system have a three-year warranty.
Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield) said the difference in bids is about $29,000 on a $17 million project.
“If these aren’t installed correctly, they won’t communicate; these radios are sophisticated radios,” he said.
Morrow said the letter from Motorola service representative Kevin Ryan said Motorola would not honor the warranty if installation is by a non-Motorola shop or dealer.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said he and County Purchasing Agent Linda Wolf reviewed the proposals and recommended Wells be awarded the contract.
“We both felt Wells should be awarded the bid based on the levels of training for the individuals who would be doing the work,” Palmer said.
“This is a step in the process of a $17 million project. Those radios are a critical part of making this function. If they don’t function, you’re going to have problems.”
Kehn told the Board of Supervisors his people have CET (Certified Electronics Technician) accreditation, which is one of the most widely recognized in the electronics field.
“The other vendor does not meet any of these qualifications,” Kehn said. “This is a very sophisticated, multi-net voting system. The mobile radios are critical to the performance of the system.
“Motorola has already stated they will not work with this company, a competitor of Motorola. Even we will need assistance from Motorola to make this work properly.”
Capital is a Harris Corp. radio dealer.
Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) said both Capital and Wells are good companies, but the county needs to know that Motorola will repair the radios under warranty if there are any problems.
Morrow moved a resolution to award the contract to Wells, but Supervisor Daniel Connell (D-Westport) successfully moved to table the award pending a response from Capital Digitronics.
The county is building the new public safety radio network to replace a failing system that was put into use in the 1950s.
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